Democratic Gov. Brian Schweitzer forced taxpayers to cover a nearly $200 seafood dinner bill in March, according to records reviewed by Media Trackers Montana. Schweitzer's meal -- for which he requested a taxpayer-funded reimbursement of $199.50 -- came from Ocean Beauty Seafood, a seafood distributor located in Helena.
Ann Brodsky, a staffer in Schweitzer's office, initially told Media Trackers that the reimbursement was merely for "residence expenses." Only later did she state that the funds were used for a seafood dinner for Schweitzer.
"There was no event, the governor is reimbursed for food expenses for the residence," Brodsky said. "It was a place that didn't accept credit cards -- he couldn't use the state credit card. It was a part of his residence expenses."
The governor requested and received $50,000 in his 2010-2011 budget to pay for these types of expenses. His budget noted that his office spent $25,000 each year on food and cleaning services for the governor's mansion. Schweitzer's 2012-2013 two-year budget was carried over from the 2020-2011 budget.
"The program has consistently spent all of this appropriation, predominantly for food and housekeeping," Schweitzer's request stated.
Schweitzer, who regularly talks about the fiscal conservatism of his administration, also accepted an 8 percent pay raise last year, increasing his salary to $108,167.
This post was originally featured at Media Trackers Montana.