A public records request by VTDigger shows Gov. Peter Shumlin scrapped his security detail during a six-day trip to Italy last month.
Shumlin traveled to Italy to give a keynote speech at the International Conference of Progressive European leaders, held Dec. 14 and 15. He then tacked on four days to the trip for a personal vacation and returned to Vermont on Dec. 19.
Shumlin took flak for vacationing sans security during his first term. In March 2011, he took a trip to the West Indies without a security detail and without notifying the public. The governor’s unannounced departure coincided with a major winter storm in Vermont, which stirred consternation among the public and government officials who were unaware of his whereabouts.
Upon his return, the governor defended his decision to stray from standard procedure — the state’s governors typically take Vermont State Police officers with them when they travel out of state. Former Gov. Jim Douglas and former Gov. Howard Dean both adhered to this policy.
In 2011 Shumlin told reporters that security hadn’t been necessary for the West Indies trip because it had been kept secret from the public. “Vermonters really appreciate common sense,” Shumlin said. “As their governor, I’m supposed to exercise common sense. If I can go somewhere and not be known, it’s common sense that I’m going to be pretty safe. No one knew who I was. If it had been in the newspapers in Dominica who I was perhaps the outcome would have been different.”
Shumlin had a higher profile during his trip to Italy — he was invited as the keynote guest in his capacity as the freshly anointed head of the Democratic Governors Association, and the trip was announced at a press conference on Dec. 6.
After the West Indies hullaballoo, Shumlin wouldn’t say whether or not he would fly solo again, but he asserted, “I would never go without security if I was traveling on state business.”
Sue Allen, the governor’s spokeswoman, told VTDigger that due to security concerns, “We do not his discuss his security or his decisions.”