Foreign Governments Paid for Fenty's Trips
Saturday, March 14, 2009
D.C. Mayor Adrian M. Fenty accepted a total of $36,300 from foreign governments to pay for his trips to China and the United Arab Emirates, the city's attorney general said last night.
In a memo released to reporters, Peter J. Nickles said Chinese officials paid $11,300 for hotels, food, travel and incidentals for the mayor's week in Beijing and Shanghai for the Summer Olympics in August. The UAE government spent $25,000 for Fenty's one-week trip to Dubai last month, during which the mayor attended a professional women's tennis tournament.
No D.C. taxpayer money was used, and Fenty (D) paid for his wife and twin sons to accompany him, Nickles said. Although Fenty has referred to both trips as private vacations, he also said he met with government officials in both countries.
The "acceptance of both donations (both allowing the Mayor to perform formal and official governmental functions) were found by the Office of the Attorney General to be legally sufficient and in compliance with applicable law," Nickles wrote.
Mayoral travel abroad is not uncommon, but the acceptance of money from foreign governments appears to be rare. Former mayor Anthony A. Williams (D) traveled abroad often, but most of his trips were funded by donations from Washington area businesses or foreign universities. He accepted funds for one trip to England from the London municipal government.
While campaigning for mayor, Fenty criticized Williams's frequent travel in the United States and abroad. Although Fenty has not traveled outside of the city as frequently, he has increased his trips in the past year. He campaigned for Barack Obama in a half-dozen states, attended a film festival in Utah and visited New York City several times for fundraisers and to meet with Mayor Michael Bloomberg (I).
Fenty has been criticized by Jewish leaders and human rights activists for attending the tennis tournament in Dubai after UAE officials denied a visa to an Israeli player.
Fenty announced the trip to China in advance, but he revealed that he was in Dubai only after he returned.
Of the cost of Fenty's China trip, $3,800 was paid by the Beijing municipal government, $5,000 by the Shanghai municipal government and $2,500 by the Chinese People's Association for Friendship. The expenses covered food, hotel, incidental and transportation expenses, Nickles wrote.
UAE Ambassador Yousef al-Otaiba contributed the $25,000 to cover food, hotel, incidental and transportation expenses in Dubai.
Both trips will be reported to the Office of Partnerships and Grants, Nickles said.