Responding to Democratic gubernatorial candidate Bill White's accusations that Gov. Rick Perry had hidden a "secret schedule" from the public, Perry's office said this afternoon that it mistakenly released a "political schedule" to the White campaign, which obtained a Sept. 15 schedule as part of a public information request.
Perry spokeswoman Katherine Cesinger said the office does keep separate schedules for the governor — "an official schedule and a political schedule" — and that the political calendar was "erroneously provided." The office maintains the political schedule is exempt from public records laws.
Earlier today, White used the document to question Perry's openess and transparency (see earlier story). Perry's office says it maintains two calendars because Texas law precludes state resources from being used for political purposes, so the two calendars help faciitate that separation. "This was a one time occurrence, and we are taking steps to prevent this in the future," said Cesinger.
In June, Bill White criticized the governor for "working part time" after his schedule for the first six months of 2010 showed an average of seven hours per week in state work and 38 weekdays with “no state scheduled events.” Perry responded that he simply doesn’t write down much of his work for the state. Open government advocates have argued that the governor should detail for taxpayers how he spends his time. "If you're putting in a full day's work, put it in the schedule to show us," said Keith Elkins, the executive director of the Freedom of Information Foundation of Texas.
UPDATE 4:19pm: Cesinger clarifies that "the governor, not the governor’s office, maintains two schedules. He maintains the political schedule through his campaign office, and the official schedule through the governor’s office." It's unclear, then, how the state office released a political schedule. We're awaiting the governor's office response.