WASHINGTON — Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer (R), in town for the National Governors Association conference, will skip a White House dinner Sunday honoring the nation’s governors, telling staff she does not want to participate in a “social” event.
The dinner, an annual event hosted by President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama, is one of the conference’s highlights. Brewer’s decision comes a month after she dramatically confronted the president at a Phoenix area airport over his response to her portrayal of him in her book.
“I’m not,” Brewer told The Huffington Post when asked whether she would attend the dinner.
The Huffington Post overheard Brewer telling gubernatorial staffers prior to Saturday’s opening NGA session that she would skip the dinner because it was a “social” function, but that she would attend Monday’s White House meeting between governors and Obama because it was a “policy” event.
When asked about her plans for Sunday night and her reasons for skipping the dinner, Brewer was ushered away by an aide. Her spokesman, Matthew Benson, stepped in to answer questions on her behalf.
“We have other plans now,” Benson said, without elaborating on what Brewer would be doing Sunday night.
Benson did confirm that Brewer would attend the Monday White House meeting.
Brewer and Obama have had a turbulent relationship since they both took office in 2009, exacerbated by Obama’s decision to sue Arizona over the state’s controversial immigration law and Brewer’s heated rhetoric toward the Obama administration. During their confrontation at the airport last month, Brewer waved her finger at Obama.
Earlier this week, Brewer declined an invitation by Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) to testify before the Senate regarding the immigration law, which is pending before the Supreme Court. Brewer, a former Arizona secretary of state, did veto a “birther” bill in Arizona last year, which would have required Obama and future presidential candidates to prove their natural-born citizenship.
While four Republican governors — Rick Scott of Florida, Rick Perry of Texas, Butch Otter of Idaho and John Kasich of Ohio — do not belong to the NGA, at least one will be coming to Washington for the dinner and not the conference. Scott indicated Friday that he and his wife, Ann, will have dinner at the White House Sunday.
Brewer is expected to attend all other events that make up this weekend’s NGA conference, which is dedicated to economic issues.