In that time, W. Richard West Jr. was away from Washington traveling for 576 days on trips that included speaking engagements, fundraising and work for other nonprofit groups, according to a review of travel vouchers for West's trips obtained by The Washington Post.
West's travel often took him far from American Indian culture: Auckland and Wellington, New Zealand; Athens; Bali, Indonesia; Sydney and Brisbane; London; Singapore; Florence, Rome and Venice; Paris; Gothenburg, Sweden; Seville, Spain; Seoul; Vienna; and Zagreb, Croatia.
At the time, top Smithsonian officials were allowed unlimited leave with pay. "At all times," West said, "my travel authorizations and reimbursements, and their direct connection to NMAI and Smithsonian business, were reviewed and approved fully by my supervisors.
"There is no point at which these activities were being carried on in anything but an open way and with the approval of the Smithsonian."