Friday, February 26, 2016

Leggett's Cuba trip costs questioned

Montgomery County Executive Ike Leggett's trip to Cuba is raising some questions about the amount taxpayers are picking up the tab for. The Montgomery County Young Republicans say the estimated $8700 being spent for Leggett and an assistant on the visit sounds too high for a country with cheap lodging accomodations. Even luxury hotel rooms there can be had for around $250 per night, they said in a press release.

Councilmember Nancy Navarro is paying her own way on the trip.

The MCYRs also question just how much business the "business" trip can generate. Even major corporations are having difficulty accessing the Cuban market, even after President Obama opened the possibility of such economic activity.

Noting the County is currently facing a $200,000,000+ budget shortfall, the YRs suggested elected officials should be sacrificing at this time. "Instead, several have decided to partake in a luxury, 5-day trip to Club Havana!" their statement said.

The organization is asking for an itemized accounting of all the expenses generated by the Cuban getaway. "Taxpayers have a right and desire to know how public funds are being spent," they said.


  1. Why are they going there in the first place?

    1. Business trip. It's common for high ranking politicians and/or their economic development dept. to take trips to various countries to meet with their political and business counterparts to try and foster growth and attract businesses looking to expand into the U.S.

      Trying to move fast and be one of the first to pitch Cuban business and political leaders on the merits of opening their U.S. operations in the DC area makes sense to me. Especially if we're just talking a few grand investment.

  2. And not that the local Young Republicans are worth responding to (or reporting on), but to answer their question: one would assume the vast majority of the $8700 is airfare, lodging, and then a local handler/driver while in Cuba.

    There still aren't any commercial flights from the U.S. to Cuba so there are at least 4 flights to pay for between the two of them - either flying into a different Caribbean/Central American country and then a separate flight to Cuba or flying to Miami and taking a charter flight into Havana ($3500-6000 total). Handler/driver is going to be $300/day, if you can find someone who covers both responsibilities. $400/day if you have to higher two separate people ($1500-$2000). $150-200 hotel rooms (two rooms, I assume 4 nights. $1200-$1600). Basic per diem $50 a day for two people ($500).

    So my back of the envelop comes out to between $7-10K; there are various smaller costs, e.g. transportation to/parking at Dulles ($100-200), travel/evac insurance (not sure of the cost considering I have no idea how negatively Cuba is looked at by insurance companies), etc. that I didn't bother factoring in. Maybe the Young Republicans should grow up and take a business trip or 50 before accusing someone of taking a "luxury, 5-day trip to Club Havana!" just because they don't know what real-world expenses look like.