On Politics
4:59 pm
Thu December 13, 2012

Gary Alexander running up travel costs for PA taxpayers while commuting from RI

Gary Alexander, the former director of the state Department of Human Services, is costing Pennsylvania taxpayers thousands of dollars by traveling by car from a home in Rhode Island to his current job as Pennsylvania’s secretary of public welfare, according to a published report.

The Pennsylvania Independent has these details:

Monthly vehicle use reports filed with the Department of General Services show Alexander drove 41,727 miles in state-owned vehicles from July 2011 through June 2012. Of those trips, at least 21,807 miles were tallied under “commute” travel.

The trips add up. Alexander spent more than $4,700 in state expenses the calendar year 2011, according to state records. Purchases were made at gas stations in Harrisburg, throughout Pennsylvania and in Rhode Island.

During a 52-week period, Alexander made 29 trips from Rhode Island directly to Harrisburg, and 14 trips from Harrisburg directly to Rhode Island. Those trips are around 350 miles each way, taking about six hours.

An additional 44 trips cited Rhode Island as a point of departure or final destination with a stop along the way, like Philadelphia.

The Independent says it obtained Alexander’s travel information through a public records request. The paper’s findings are sparking criticism of Alexander:

Eric Epstein is a government-reform advocate in Harrisburg who runs Rock the Capital, a reform-minded group that is critical of how state officials spend taxpayer dollars. He said he finds it hard to believe that Gov. Tom Corbett couldn’t find a qualified Pennsylvanian to run DPW.

“It demonstrates that his heart is not in Pennsylvania,” he said. “I have nothing against Rhode Island, and I have nothing personally against the man, but the secretary of DPW is one of the most critical jobs in the state.”

RIPR’s former healthcare reporter, Megan Hall, previously reported on how Alexander was balancing his post in Pennsylvania with work for a Rhode Island consulting company. Alexander had also been a secretary of RI’s Executive Office of Health and Human Services and claimed some big savings for the state’s Global Medicaid Waiver.

UPDATE:

Justin Katz argues on Anchor Rising that Alexander’s travel expenses have been taken out of context.

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