A tanned and rested Gov. Peter Shumlin today answered the question that had been plaguing politicos for nearly a week: He was vacationing in Dominica.
The reason he kept it a secret — even from staffers such as Secretary of Administration Jeb Spaulding — and asked his staff to keep it a secret until he returned is because he didn't take his two-person security detail with him.
In fact, he drove himself to and from the airport to his Montpelier home, Shumlin revealed.
"If I had told people ahead of time where I was going, that would have defeated the purpose," said Shumlin. "There's no reason to hide it now."
Last week, top aides to Gov. Shumlin refused to reveal his vacation spot out of concern for the governor's privacy. In truth, Shumlin said, it had more to do with security.
Only telling some of his staff, though, left the impression that some top officials didn't know where the governor was holed up.
Shumlin said he was surprised there was so much prurient interest in his vacay location.
"If this is the biggest ta-do, then we're doing good, team," he said to his staffers during a press conference. "I understand this is a departure [from the practice of past governors], I understand that."
The governor took time this afternoon to thank Agency of Transportation, Public Safety and Emergency Management workers for their non-stop efforts to help dig the state out from a record snowstorm and deal with flooding. The recent storm was Vermont's largest March snowstorm and the third largest — ever.
At all times, Shumlin and others noted, he was kept abreast of the storm's impact and the state's response. "If I thought it would make a difference to be here, I would have hopped on a plane back," said Shumlin.
Shumlin said he made the call, this time, to go without security detail because he felt it was prudent.
Public Safety Commissioner Keith Flynn defended the decision not to send a security detail with the governor on vacation, but would not say if this would be the norm going forward.
"There was always a chain of command and clear communication," said Flynn.
Shumlin said he paid for the trip to the small island out of his own pocket.
Pictured: Gov. Peter Shumlin (l) and Public Safety Commissioner Keith Flynn (r)