Branstad slams news report on top aide’s travel

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — Gov. Terry Branstad calls a television news report about a top staffer’s travel expenses a “bunch of baloney.”

Branstad on Monday slammed the report from WHO-TV in Des Moines about Iowa Economic Development Authority Director Debi Durham. The report says Durham spent $73,000 on travel in one fiscal year, on trips to Europe and other locations.

Branstad says Durham is seeking business opportunities for the state and has helped grow jobs in Iowa, citing the recent announcement that Facebook Inc. will build a data center in Altoona as an example. He says she works long hours and has “a tremendous track record.”

The television report says Durham’s travels included five-star hotel stays and first-class plane tickets.

Iowa’s previous economic development directors spent far less than Durham in a single year.

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