D.C. Mayor Marion Barry yesterday released records of his travel expenses and charges to his discretionary ceremonial account, showing that in the past year he took 13 official trips costing $9,513 and spent an additional $21,716 in conjunction with his official duties.
While some travel expense records were released a year ago after The Washington Post requested the information under the Freedom of Information Act, this was the first time ceremonial fund records have been made public.
The ceremonial fund is a discretionary account with an annual $17,500 budget that was established to cover expenses associated with the mayor's official duties. In the past city officials have maintained that a District statute permitted the mayor to keep ceremonial fund records confidential.
The Post filed a lawsuit last year challenging the city's position and requesting records of the ceremonial account from 1983 through May 1986. A D.C. Court of Appeals panel recently ordered the city to release those documents.
Barry's expenditure of $21,716 includes spending from part of the previous fiscal year, in addition to the current year.
The travel expense records released last year were incomplete or, in many cases, contained no documentation. The records portrayed a largely uncontrolled and haphazard system, with the mayor often charging expenses on a city-issued American Express card without itemized receipts, which are required under the city's regulations for expenses.
Shortly after release of those records, Barry established the position of controller for the executive office of the mayor, naming George Thomas to take over functions previously performed by an administrative officer.
The statement released yesterday on travel expenses, covering July 1986 through June 1987, and ceremonial expenditures, which were made from August 1986 through last week, said that the controller "instituted a number of internal controls designed to ensure that adequate documentation and a data retrieval system are maintained to support mayoral travel and expenses.
"The new system requires that in-town expenses of the mayor be consistently and appropriately charged to his discretionary/ceremonial fund," the statement said.
The ceremonial fund records made public yesterday included items such as $2,070.66 paid to the Hotel Washington for a breakfast for National Secretary's Week in 1986, sponsored by the mayor and the Office of the Secretary of the District of Columbia, and a $2,217.92 bill from the hotel for the same event in 1987.
The largest total expense for a single event was $3,168.50 for a crab feast held this year for congressional leaders.
Concerning travel expenses for the 13 trips, air fare costs totaled $4,537 and lodging and meals totaled $4,516. By far the most expensive trip was to Nashville, in June for the U.S. Conference of Mayors, which cost $3,049.09 and included $1,722.29 for a reception for delegates to the conference.
According to the statement, $3,176 has been charged to organizations or individuals for reimbursement to the city because in some instances the mayor was their guest.