Krolicki defends China trip, says it cost state nothing

RENO — Lt. Gov. Brian Krolicki defended himself Saturday in the latest round of a public feud he is having with Gov. Jim Gibbons, a fellow Republican who had charged Krolicki went on a state-sanctioned trip to China for fun instead of promoting tourism.

“My work ethic couldn’t have been any stronger,” Krolicki said. “It was a trip filled with work, but certainly there was an opportunity to grab a present for a child or look at Chinese architecture. You’re going to do a little of that as well.”

Gibbons touched off the latest round of feuding Friday when he urged Krolicki, who is chairman of the Nevada Commission on Tourism, to turn his attention to tourism markets closer to home to save taxpayer dollars.

In a statement issued after business hours Friday by spokesman Dan Burns, Gibbons said Krolicki during the China trip “spent his time on pursuits unrelated to promoting tourism in Nevada, such as sightseeing and shopping, and did not attend scheduled meetings.”

Krolicki on Saturday defended the 10-day trip he took in June with 14 Nevada business leaders, saying no taxpayer dollars were involved.

He wouldn’t provide a copy of the trip’s itinerary.

Krolicki, who is considering a 2010 race against Sen. Harry Reid, D-Nev., said he was dismayed by the governor’s criticism.

In a statement issued Saturday, the tourism commission said business leaders paid their way and their companies were assessed a fee that paid Krolicki’s expenses in exchange for obtaining access to Chinese officials at commission-arranged meetings.

Krolicki’s predecessor, former Lt. Gov. Lorraine Hunt-Bono, said she took a similar trip to China, but her travel was paid by the state.

The statement included a defense of Krolicki by Karen Chen, the tourism commission’s chief representative in China.

Chen said Krolicki had hardly any time to rest during his busy schedule, let alone go sightseeing.

Chen arranged the itinerary for the group and accompanied Krolicki at meetings with Chinese and U.S. officials.

Gibbons launched his criticism of Krolicki earlier in the week after the tourism commission rejected the governor’s choice for its executive director.

Gibbons also accused Krolicki of lying when he said the application of appointee Kirk Montero was received too late to be considered. Krolicki stands by the statement.

Tourism commission members said they’ll continue with their efforts to find a new executive director based on advice from the state attorney general that Nevada law requires the governor to appoint one of three finalists recommended by the panel.

The commission is still vetting candidates and hadn’t forwarded its recommendations when the governor appointed Montero on Christmas Eve.

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