Capitol Alert

Jerry Brown’s $56,440 flight

California Gov. Jerry Brown discusses the scaling back of proposal to address climate change that he supported during a news conference, Wednesday, Sept. 9, 2015, in Sacramento, Calif.
California Gov. Jerry Brown discusses the scaling back of proposal to address climate change that he supported during a news conference, Wednesday, Sept. 9, 2015, in Sacramento, Calif. AP

So far as points of symbolism go cultivating a frugal image, nothing has replaced Gov. Jerry Brown’s old Plymouth Satellite so much as his frequent flights on Southwest Airlines.

But recently, the fourth-term Democrat has made occasion to fly in higher style.

Brown flew to Italy this summer for climate talks at the Vatican with real estate developer George Marcus and his wife, Judy, in their private plane. And Brown reported Wednesday that when he traveled to Sun Valley, Idaho, for the investment bank Allen & Co.’s annual gathering of technology and media heavyweights, he traveled gratis on a corporate plane.

Brown listed the value of the flight for him and his press secretary, Evan Westrup, at $56,440.

The flight was one of three gifts of airfare Brown reported in an annual disclosure. He also accepted gifts of travel to Las Vegas for a union convention and to Weed for a meeting of the California State Sheriffs Association. Those flights were valued at $10,254 and $1,039, respectively.

The pricier trip to Sun Valley came in June, after Brown spoke at a climate summit in Toronto. Brown has made climate change a priority of his administration, and he was in Sun Valley to participate in a panel on the subject.

In a note attached to the disclosure, Brown’s office said the true cost to Allen & Co. of providing the flight was “much lower” than $56,440, but that the valuation was based on the cost of chartering a plane, as required by state reporting regulations.

Brown’s office also reported a gift of $784 for lodging expenses on the trip.

Westrup said in an email that “given the governor’s schedule, it would not have been possible for him to attend events in Sun Valley and the convention in Las Vegas without these flights.”

He is California’s longest-serving governor and its oldest, spanning two administrations decades apart. Watch Governor Jerry Brown change over 35 years in this nine-second video.

David Siders: 916-321-1215, @davidsiders

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