Home Part of States Newsroom
Brief
Governor backs Economic and Community Development commissioner’s big travel bill

Share

Governor backs Economic and Community Development commissioner’s big travel bill

Jul 09, 2024 | 12:32 pm ET
By Sam Stockard
Share
Governor backs Economic and Community Development commissioner’s big travel bill
Description
Gov. Bill Lee,npictured here with Republican legislative leaders.(Photo: John Partipilo)

Gov. Bill Lee is defending the spending by his administration’s top economic recruiters on a trip to Australia in which a commissioner turned in an invoice for transportation despite taking a travel per diem.

Economic and Community Development Commissioner Stuart McWhorter and Deputy Commissioner Allen Borden spent more than $32,450 on a four-day trip to Sidney and Brisbane in early March, flying first class and staying in five-star hotels with views of some of the country’s most popular sites, The Tennessean reported.

Lee did not answer questions directly about McWhorter’s expenses but pointed out Monday the state has recruited businesses that have invested $35 billion in Tennessee and created 200,000 jobs.

“You do it by going on recruiting trips,” Lee said after speaking to the Nashville Rotary Club Monday.

In addition, McWhorter, a venture capitalist whose father was a major shareholder in the Hospital Corporation of America, also turned in a $64 Uber bill to Nashville International Airport even though he turned in mileage for local airport transportation, according to The Tennessean report.

The newspaper was unable to obtain details about the trip such as which companies or industries are under recruitment.

State law allows the Economic and Community Development Department to keep information closed to the public until the state signs a contract with a company.

Lee and other state officials took a similar trip in November 2023 to France and Italy that wound up costing $117,000, The Tennessean reported.