Surprise, Gov. Dannel P. Malloy is in Kuwait.
With no public announcement, Malloy flew Monday to Washington at the invitation of Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta, then left that evening for the Persian Gulf state to visit U.S. troops with Delaware Gov. Jack Markell, a fellow Democrat.
Asked about the governor’s whereabouts on Monday, his press staff responded that he was in Washington for unspecified meetings. On Tuesday morning, the staff did not respond to a freedom-of-information request from The Mirror for his itinerary.
The mystery of the governor’s itinerary was resolved at 5:06 p.m. Tuesday, when his office issued a statement about the governor’s trip, which it described as part of a Department of Defense program that puts governors in touch with constituents and other U.S. troops serving overseas.
After meeting Panetta at the Pentagon, Malloy and Markell went to Walter Reed National Military Medical Center to visit wounded soldiers.
“Visiting with the brave men and women from Connecticut and elsewhere who have selflessly put their lives on the line to defend our freedom and way of life is an honor and a privilege,” Malloy said. “We’ve lost nine soldiers since I took office in January. It is an unimaginable tragedy when someone gives their life to protect their country, but it’s also heroic.
“I wanted to go where these troops have to go, so I could tell them in person how grateful we are for their service, and how proud they make us. I’m glad I had the opportunity to visit with them in Kuwait and will continue to keep them in my thoughts and prayers until they all return home safely.”
The secrecy surrounding the trip was imposed by defense officials, said Roy Occhiogrosso, the governor’s senior adviser. Based on the statement from the governor’s office, it was unclear if Malloy and Markell already were on the way home from Kuwait.
Occhiogrosso said he could not comment on when the governor would return.
“He was proud to do it,” Occhiogrosso said.
Malloy has been a frequent visitor to Washington since taking office in January as the first Democratic governor of Connecticut in 20 years, often to lobby federal officials for transportation funding. But his office usually releases details of his planned meetings or speeches out of state.