Some of Gov. Benigno R. Fitial's off-island travel costs were without supporting documents such as airline boarding passes, car rental receipts, restaurant receipts, or the name of dignitaries he hosted in claiming so-called “official representation” costs, based on Department of Finance documents.
For example, in a July 5-22, 2011, trip to San Francisco, Washington, D.C., Utah, San Diego, and Los Angeles, the governor spent a total of $12,092.58 in air fare and per diem, plus $1,134.14 for official representation.
However, in his travel report to Finance, the governor did not have supporting documents such as boarding pass, car rental receipt, and justification for the official representation.
In an Aug. 31 to Sept. 9, 2011, trip to New Caledonia, the governor spent $17,064 in air fare, per diem and official representation. Again, there was no justification for the $500 official representation.
Fitial's trips within and outside the CNMI cost taxpayers at least $124,399 between October 2007 and early August 2012-an average of almost $25,000 a year.
But this may not be the full amount and is only based on Finance’s account ledger print that has yet to be cross-checked with almost 2-inch thick travel vouchers and travel authorizations, among other things.
Press secretary Angel Demapan said the annual average of $24,880 is a “conservative amount” and that the Fitial administration “is proud of its record of having the lowest official representation expenses in our Commonwealth’s history.”
Still, some lawmakers want to know how much has been claimed as “official representation” or already included in the “per diem” rate.