ST. PAUL (WCCO) — Gov. Mark Dayton left Friday for a nine-day trade mission to South Korea, his first overseas trip as governor — something previous Minnesota governors have done. However, as a candidate, Dayton criticized former Gov. Tim Pawlenty’s trade missions.
Pawlenty went on nine separate international trade missions, which Dayton — the candidate — called “political.”
“Since I am not running for president,” said Dayton in September 2010. “I will not need a trade office to support my international trade junkets, aimed at improving my presidential ‘gravitas.'”
That was then. This is now.
Leaving Friday morning on the South Korean trade mission, Dayton told WCCO-TV that international trade and a Trade Office are critical.
Not only did Dayton keep the Trade Office that candidate Dayton said he would abolish, he appointed his campaign finance chair Katie Clark as the Trade Office director, at a salary of $90,000 a year.
Also, when the new Republican state legislature eliminated the Trade Office this year, Dayton vetoed the bill.
“The Trade Office provides vitally important services to many Minnesota businesses,” he wrote in his veto letter. “I insist on continuing the funding for this important office.”
Dayton still maintains Pawlenty’s trade missions were political. As for the promise from candidate Dayton to abolish the Trade Office: he said he’s ordered a review to evaluate its efficiency.