When the news broke yesterday that Governor Carcieri was in Iraq, Lieutenant Governor Elizabeth Roberts learned about this in the same way as other Rhode Islanders -- through the media.
"We were not informed that the governor would be in Iraq," Paul Tencher, Roberts's chief of staff, told me when I asked about this. He says that Roberts learned of Carcieri's trip "from media sources early yesterday."
Asked if Roberts's office was informed in advance of the governor's travel out of the country, Carcieri spokesman Jeff Neal says, "I do not believe they were." Asked if there is a protocol for informing Roberts on occasions when Carcieri travels out of state, Neal says, "There is not."
"It is my understanding that a sitting governor is always in authority unless there are circumstances in which he or she cannot exercise the authority," Neal adds. "When Governor Carcieri travels in the United states, he continues to act as governor. Since we were able to contact him directly through his trip outside the country, he continues to act as governor. There was no transfer of authority."
Neal said he would have to check with the Department of Defense on the specifics of Carcieri's Iraq trip, "but my understanding is that we were not permitted to share that information [in advance] outside this office."