Governor Lee Backs Economic & Community Development Commissioner’s Big Travel Bill

Photo: Gov. Bill Lee, pictured here with Republican legislative leaders. Photo Credit: John Partipilo

By Sam Stockard [The Tennessee Lookout -CC BY-NC-ND 4.0] –

Gov. Bill Lee is defending the spending by his administration’s top economic recruiters on a trip to Australia in which a commissioner turned in an invoice for transportation despite taking a travel per diem.

Economic and Community Development Commissioner Stuart McWhorter and Deputy Commissioner Allen Borden spent more than $32,450 on a four-day trip to Sidney and Brisbane in early March, flying first class and staying in five-star hotels with views of some of the country’s most popular sites, The Tennessean reported.

Lee did not answer questions directly about McWhorter’s expenses but pointed out Monday the state has recruited businesses that have invested $35 billion in Tennessee and created 200,000 jobs.

“You do it by going on recruiting trips,” Lee said after speaking to the Nashville Rotary Club Monday.

In addition, McWhorter, a venture capitalist whose father was a major shareholder in the Hospital Corporation of America, also turned in a $64 Uber bill to Nashville International Airport even though he turned in mileage for local airport transportation, according to The Tennessean report.

The newspaper was unable to obtain details about the trip such as which companies or industries are under recruitment.

State law allows the Economic and Community Development Department to keep information closed to the public until the state signs a contract with a company.

Lee and other state officials took a similar trip in November 2023 to France and Italy that wound up costing $117,000, The Tennessean reported.

***Note from The Tennessee Conservative: Governor Lee and Stuart McWhorter were named the TOP Tennessee Executive Branch RINOs in the Tennessee Conservative’s 2024 RINO Report & Freedom Caucus Awards.

About the Author: Sam Stockard is a veteran Tennessee reporter and editor, having written for the Daily News Journal in Murfreesboro, where he served as lead editor when the paper won an award for being the state’s best Sunday newspaper two years in a row. He has led the Capitol Hill bureau for The Daily Memphian. His awards include Best Single Editorial from the Tennessee Press Association. Follow Stockard on Twitter @StockardSam

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