Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards speaks at the Zachary mayor's annual prayer breakfast on Nov. 4. Edwards was a guest of Mayor David Amrhein, marking the first time a sitting governor has spoken at the event.

Advocate staff photo by STACY GILL

Gov. John Bel Edwards is footing the bill for his week-long trip to Italy, the Governor's Office clarified on Friday.

Edwards, a Democrat who took office a year ago, was scheduled to travel to Rome on Friday as part of an anti-human trafficking mission. Edwards also is scheduled to meet with Pope Francis while in Italy.

First Lady Donna Edwards will also privately pay for her travel, per the Governor's Office.

The state will cover the tab for the governor's security detail that's mandated by state law.

Joining the Edwardses on the trip will be State Police Superintendent Col. Mike Edmonson and state Senate President John Alario and Sen. Ronnie Johns, both Republicans.

Edmonson's trip will be paid for by Metanoia House, a privately-funded Baton Rouge shelter for girls under age 21 who have been victims of human trafficking. Edmonson's wife is also going on the trip, and her expenses will be paid for by the Edmonsons, according to a State Police spokesman.

Alario said he will be using funds from his campaign account to pay for his trip. Johns said he will pay for most of his expenses through his private funds. A small portion will come from his campaign account. Johns' wife is also going, and her costs will be paid for privately by the couple.

News of the trip broke Thursday evening. Edwards spokesman Richard Carbo on Friday said that due to an internal miscommunication, it was unclear who would pay for the governor's trip. Carbo said Edwards is taking no staff from the governor's office and will be staying at a seminary.

The Louisiana delegation is traveling to Italy with Hospitaler Sisters of Mercy nuns who have helped establish Metanoia House. Edwards, who is Catholic, attended the groundbreaking for the home last year and has frequently spoken about its mission.

"Our partners in Rome have developed best practices to combat this crisis, and we look forward to learning from them and implementing their ideas here in Louisiana," Edwards said in a statement Friday. "I know we'll bring invaluable information back to help our state on this issue."

The Houston to New Orleans corridor has been cited as one of the worst for human trafficking in the country. Louisiana State Police have investigated about 100 human trafficking cases just in the past two years. During that period, 39 victims have been rescued, including 27 who were younger than 18 years old at the time.

Follow Elizabeth Crisp on Twitter, @elizabethcrisp.