Baker downplays secret Georgia trip, denies discussing Trump

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BOSTON – Downplaying the appearance that he and his staff sought to hide his participation in a secretive summit of conservative leaders in Georgia earlier this month, Gov. Charlie Baker on Thursday said he did not engage in reported discussions about how to stop the rise of Donald Trump.

Baker traveled to Sea Island, a posh resort off the coast of Georgia, on the first weekend in March for the World Forum, a conference hosted by the Washington-based think-tank American Enterprise Institute. The gathering featured panels and interviews with conservative political and thought leaders such as House Speaker Paul Ryan and commentator Bill Kristol, as well as business leaders like Apple’s Tim Cook.

The governor’s attendance, first reported on Wednesday night by the Boston Globe, was not previously disclosed by the governor’s staff. The News Service directly asked the governor’s communication team on March 4, the day the governor left for Georgia, whether Baker had plans to travel that weekend or during the upcoming week, but was told to wait for his public schedule.

The Georgia trip never appeared on Baker’s public schedule, but his staff did disclose the following Tuesday that Baker planned to visit Utah for a vacation with his family.

“There was no big deal on it to be honest with you, and that won’t happen again. Any time I travel outside Massachusetts, we’ll make sure everybody knows that I’ve traveled outside Massachusetts,” Baker said on Thursday during his monthly “Ask the Governor” interview on Boston Public Radio.

The Huffington Post, citing Kristol and conservative pundit Pat Buchanan, reported last week that the topic of conversation among attendees of the off-the-record summit eventually turned to Trump and ideas to slow the momentum of the GOP’s presidential front runner.

Despite repeatedly expressing his own reservations about Trump, Baker said he was not privy to those exchanges.

“If there were conversations going on about Donald Trump, I wasn’t in them,” Baker said.

Written by Matt Murphy