Gov. Charlie Baker said he will no longer leave the state without telling the public after The Boston Globe reported Thursday that he had taken an unpublicized trip to an island off the coast of Georgia to participate in a powerful conservative-leaning think tank’s national conference.
Speaking during a monthly interview segment on the WGBH program Boston Public Radio, Baker described the trip to the American Enterprise Institute Global Forum as “no big deal.’’ But he said such travel plans will be made public in the future.
“That won’t happen again,’’ he said. “Every time I travel outside Massachusetts, we’ll make sure everybody knows that I’ve traveled outside Massachusetts.’’
The Globe reported Baker traveled the weekend of March 4-6, and at first, his communications director did not respond to questions about the travel.
The Secretary of State’s office told the Globe that the undisclosed travel broke no rules. And Baker told Boston Public Radio he did not feel he needed to disclose the trip, likening it to out-of-state trips to New York to watch his son play football last fall.
Jim Braude, the show’s co-host, challenged the comparison, saying Baker was acting in his capacity as governor while at the AEI forum.
“You weren’t invited as just a guy from Swampscott,’’ he said.
“From now on if I leave Massachusetts, we’ll tell everybody,’’ Baker responded.
The Massachusetts Democratic Party was quick to criticize Baker’s trip Thursday morning, saying in a statement that the governor had been “caught sneaking out of state to an exclusive, conservative confab using taxpayer resources.’’
According to an agenda of the forum obtained by The Huffington Post, Baker was scheduled to speak on a panel about “reinventing education,’’ with a focus on “vocational education, apprenticeships, and prison reentry programs.’’
The conference featured Apple CEO Tim Cook, Tesla Motors and SpaceX CEO Elon Musk, House Speaker Paul Ryan, Republican strategist and former George W. Bush chief of staff Karl Rove, and Larry Summers, the former economic adviser to President Barack Obama and U.S. Treasury secretary under Bill Clinton, according to the agenda.
Despite occasional chatter with reporters about the 2016 presidential race, Baker has generally avoided public discussion about national political issues. The Republican governor has said he would not support Donald Trump if the tycoon winds up with his party’s nomination. Reports have indicated the AEI forum included discussion aimed at stopping Trump, but Baker said in the WGBH interview that he was not privy to those conversations.