Mystery Solved: Governor Returns From Caribbean Vacation

03/09/11 5:50PM By Bob Kinzel
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Governor Peter Shumlin at a Transportation Agency maintenance garage on Wednesday.
(Host) The mystery surrounding the whereabouts of Governor Peter Shumlin over the past five days has been solved.

Shumlin says he went on a brief vacation to the Caribbean island of Dominica. He says he kept the location a secret because he went without state police security.

VPR's Bob Kinzel reports:

(Kinzel) Usually when a governor travels out of state, they're accompanied by a state police security detail.  This was the case when Governor Shumlin made a recent trip to Washington D.C. for the winter meeting of the National Governor's Association.

But Shumlin deviated from this long standing policy when he took a short vacation late last week.

Last Friday, his press aides originally said they didn't know where the governor had gone. Then they said they did know but the information wouldn't be made public for privacy reasons.

Standing at a Transportation Agency maintenance garage, Shumlin told reporters he visited the small Caribbean island of Dominica.  He says he kept it a secret because he traveled with no security. He says that's something former Colorado governor Bill Ritter encouraged him to do at a training program for new governors last November.

(Shumlin) "I took his advice. So we thought it was best that the little island of Dominica didn't know that I was the governor - they didn't. I met a lot of my friends they called me Peter it was great to be an ordinary citizen again for a few days. That's why we didn't disclose where I was."

(Kinzel) Shumlin says he really didn't think there was a problem traveling without a security team.

(Shumlin) "Vermonters really appreciate common sense. 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."

(Kinzel) Public Safety Commissioner Keith Flynn oversees the governor's security. He says the decision was Shumlin's.

(Flynn) "There's a difference between the governor's public life and his private life. In regard to his private life if there are decisions that he wants to make in regard to that those are certainly his decisions to make and we'll respect that."

(Kinzel) Flynn says he knew where the governor was and talked to him several times a day during the recent heavy snowstorm.

(Flynn) "There was a clear chain of command as to how we were to deal with things, how to keep him informed, how to keep his staff informed. The governor was certainly well aware of what was going on."

(Kinzel) Shumlin says he'll make future decisions about taking security on his vacations on a case by case basis.

For VPR News, I'm Bob Kinzel in Montpelier.

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