Politics & Government

Taxpayers fund Bevin’s trip to speak at Utah retreat organized by Romney

Matt Bevin spoke after winning the election for Governor of Kentucky at the Galt House in Louisville, Ky. on Tuesday, November 3, 2015. Photo by Mark Cornelison | Staff
Matt Bevin spoke after winning the election for Governor of Kentucky at the Galt House in Louisville, Ky. on Tuesday, November 3, 2015. Photo by Mark Cornelison | Staff Herald-Leader

Kentucky Gov. Matt Bevin spoke this past weekend at a Utah retreat organized by Mitt Romney, the 2012 Republican presidential nominee who has been one of the most outspoken critics of Donald Trump.

The fourth annual “Experts and Enthusiasts Summit,” held mostly behind closed doors at the five-star Stein Eriksen Lodge Deer Valley in Park City, Utah, attracted about 300 business and GOP leaders. It was designed to consider new technologies and their impact on businesses, transportation and media, but The Salt Lake City Tribune said “looming over the three-day confab was the disruptive candidacy of Republican Donald Trump.”

Romney has accused Trump of being a racist and misogynist and has said he would not vote for him.

“Most of the 300 business leaders and politicians at the E2 Summit view Trump with skepticism if not outright contempt,” the newspaper said.

The visit by Bevin was “an official trip” made at taxpayers’ expense, said Amanda Stamper, Bevin’s press secretary.

“The governor was invited to speak this past Saturday at the E2 Summit in Utah with some of most renowned business and public policy leaders in the country,” Stamper said in a statement. “Gov. Bevin appreciated the opportunity to promote Kentucky and our people to current and prospective employers.”

Stamper referred questions about what Bevin said at the retreat and whether he mentioned Trump in his speech to Kelli Harrison Ritter, a special assistant to Romney. Ritter said she would have someone with the summit respond.

Matt Waldrip, executive director of the summit, said he would leave it to Bevin’s press office to say anything about Bevin’s speech at the retreat “since it was a closed meeting.”

He said Bevin was invited because “we wanted people we see as the future of our party.”

“We see Gov. Bevin as a great leader,” Waldrip said. “We hoped to transcend the political momentum we are in right now and look forward to the future of our party and country.”

Bevin said last month that he will remain silent on his preference for president until Republicans select a nominee at their national convention next month in Cleveland.

Bevin said it would be a mistake to endorse anyone yet. He also acknowledged that he has “never been big” on telling people whom he votes for.

He also said “there is no way” he could support Hillary Clinton, the presumptive Democratic nominee for president.

Asked whether he would vote for a third-party candidate, Bevin said he wouldn’t deal in hypothetical questions.

ABC News reported that summit attendees got to hear from anti-Trump Republicans, such as Nebraska Sen. Ben Sasse, and party leaders who have endorsed Trump, including House Speaker Paul Ryan and party chairman Reince Priebus.

Jack Brammer: (502) 227-1198, @BGPolitics

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