Sneaky Giuliani billed obscure agencies for travel expenses
Ben Smith of the Politico has a great investigative scoop today. Smith used New York's Freedom of Information Law to obtain Rudy Giuliani's spending records as mayor.
The documents reveal that Giuliani racked up tens of thousands of dollars in security costs for personal business, and that his office billed these expenses to obscure city agencies:
The expenses first surfaced as Giuliani's two terms as mayor of New York drew to a close in 2001, when a city auditor stumbled across something unusual: $34,000 worth of travel expenses buried in the accounts of the New York City Loft Board.
When the city's fiscal monitor asked for an explanation, Giuliani's aides refused, citing "security," said Jeff Simmons, a spokesman for the city comptroller.
But American Express bills and travel documents obtained by Politico suggest another reason City Hall may have considered the documents sensitive: They detail three summers of visits to Southampton, the Long Island town where Nathan had an apartment.
Auditors "were unable to verify that these expenses were for legitimate or necessary purposes," City Comptroller William Thompson wrote of the expenses from fiscal year 2000, which covers parts of 1999 and 2000.
The letter, whose existence has not been previously reported, was also obtained under the Freedom of Information Law. [Politico]
As mayor, Giuliani was entitled to 24/7 police protection, no matter where he happened to be. So, there was nothing improper about bringing the NYPD on his weekend getaways.
Long trips and overnight stays with security do cost the city more in gas and lodging. For example, the city spent over a thousand dollars to put up for officers at the Atlantic Utopia Lifestyle Inn, according to the Politico. (You can't make this stuff up.) But that's not sinister, either. Even the mayor needs to get out sometimes. Nobody's suggesting that he should have been a prisoner in Gracie Mansion to save the city some money.
Still, Giuliani hasn't explained why he chose to bill these expenses to the New York Loft Board, Office for People With Disabilities, and the Procurement Policy Board.
Why all the secrecy surrounding services that Rudy was entitled to anyway? The Politico's sources speculate that Giuliani's office didn't want to tarnish the boss's reputation for fiscal discipline, or let on that he was visiting his mistress on a regular basis.
I hope that none of these agencies did without because the mayor's lifestyle was cutting into their budgets.
Here's are some municipal accounting questions: Would anyone those agencies have known that Giuliani was charging tens of thousands of dollars to their offices? If any officials knew, did they break the rules by letting these illegitimate charges ride? If nobody noticed, it doesn't speak well of accounting standards under Giuliani.