Russell has taken 4 trips, costing nearly $9,500, records show
Published: November 2, 2012
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ST. THOMAS - Senate President Ronald Russell has taken four trips in the 29th Legislature totalling $9,434.55.
He said all his travel was related to energy and finding solutions for the high cost of power in the territory.
In the senator's travel records, provided by the V.I. Legislature, a number of trips were requested and approved but never taken. In some cases a cash advance was given, in other cases it was not.
The file contains documentation that he returned the cash advance checks for the trips he did not take.
"Any checks that were issued to me for travel, I returned them," he said.
New York, 2011
From March 26 to April 2, 2011, Russell traveled to New York for two purposes.
He said he was invited to speak at the 20th Anniversary of the U.S. Virgin Islands Freshwater Association. The association is a group of Virgin Islanders living in the northeast. Russell said Gov. John deJongh Jr. and Delegate Donna Christensen also attended and spoke at the event.
"I was invited to speak on behalf of the 29th Legislature and to give a vision as to how the territory would move forward," Russell said.
He also spent a few days visiting several New York universities, meeting with energy experts. He said he was interested in exploring a new technology to harness energy from ocean waves.
The trip cost $1,017.56.
Washington, D.C., 2011
Russell traveled to Washington, D.C., from Feb. 2-6, 2011, to attend the National Prayer Breakfast and meet with several federal agencies.
The trip cost $2,618.37.
Russell said he met with the Department of Transportation, Department of Energy and the Department of Interior about energy issues.
Russell said he was working on a plan to return about $250 million to the territory to relieve high energy costs. The funds would be supplied by collecting a portion of the excise tax on gasoline produced at HOVENSA.
He said he was able to pass a resolution through the Senate to press the federal government to consider the proposal.
Tampa, Fla., 2011
Russell attended the National Conference of State Legislators meeting Nov. 29 to Dec. 3, 2011, in Tampa, Fla.
The trip cost $2,048.62.
He said he went to the conference to get support for the return of the gasoline excise tax.
"I got their support," he said. "The director guaranteed me the support of the entire group and said they would write to Congress on our behalf."
Halifax, Nova Scotia, 2011
Russell attended the Council of State Governments annual meeting and regional policy forum Aug. 7-10, 2011, in Halifax, Nova Scotia.
The trip cost $3,750.
He said he went to the conference to gather support for the gasoline excise tax proposal. The members of the body did give him that support, he said. The organization passed a resolution to that effect, he said.
- Contact reporter Aldeth Lewin at 714-9111 or email email@example.com.