INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — Indiana Attorney General Todd Rokita’s office spent at least $2,300 for his trip to the U.S-Mexican border in January that included a stop at a Donald Trump rally along the way, state records show.
The costs include flight, gas, rental car and hotel expenses for Rokita and two staffers for the trip during which Rokita joined several other Republican state attorneys general for a “border security briefing” with Texas Gov. Greg Abbott.
That trip included Rokita among participants interviewed by a Fox Business program host. He then traveled north for Trump’s Jan. 29 rally near Houston, during which the former president mentioned Rokita as “another man who has done a fantastic job.”
Rokita’s trip included briefings with law enforcement and visits to the border wall and crossing sites along the Rio Grande, attorney general office’s spokeswoman Molly Craft said.
“Attorney General Rokita will continue to look for opportunities to expose the lawlessness at the border,” Craft said.
Rokita’s office said in early February that the state was paying trip expenses, but no details were provided until the release of documentation late Friday in response to open records requests filed by The Associated Press and other news outlets.
That documentation included about $550 in fuel expenses as he and a staffer drove roundtrip in a state vehicle. The office paid about $800 for another staff member’s roundtrip flight from Indianapolis to McAllen, Texas, and rental vehicle on Jan. 26-28.
Hotel expenses for Rokita and the staffers in Texas and Arkansas totaled about $770 for seven total room nights. The documentation released showed no hotel expenses for Rokita the night of the Trump rally or in Hope, Arkansas, where he and his son visited former President Bill Clinton’s boyhood home, according to a photo posted to his office’s Facebook page.
Rokita paid for all expenses related to his son’s portion of the trip, Craft said.
“The Rokita family attends many official functions and accompanies the Attorney General on official duties from time to time, as is the case with most elected officials,” Craft said.
The state Democratic Party criticized Rokita for spending taxpayer money on what it called a “political trip.”
“Hoosiers should not be held responsible for paying for Todd Rokita’s (political) family vacation,” Lauren Ganapini, the state Democratic Party’s executive director, said in a statement. “However desperate and self-serving this strategy may be, having taxpayers fund his political trip is an abuse of power and he should reimburse the state immediately.”