Cora Wilds, chairman of the District's Boxing and Wrestling Commission, received more than $3,000 in travel expenses from an international boxing organization at the same time that she billed the same expenses to the city, interviews with officials of the organization and examination of city records reveal.
Officials of the joint International Boxing Federation-United States Boxing Association said in interviews that, as an official of the organization from 1983 to 1985, Wilds received reimbursements for her travel to five of the groups' conventions and meetings in the United States and Manila. The District also reimbursed Wilds for those expenses.
In addition, the treasurer of another boxing organization, the World Boxing Council, said yesterday in a telephone interview from London that he was "90 percent sure" that his organization had reimbursed Wilds for part of her trips to the group's meetings in Bangkok, Montreal and Aruba. Expenses for those three trips also appear on Wilds' city travel records. Wilds received about $6,300 from the city for those three trips.
"We pay a portion of expenses, 50 percent of the air fare and most -- if not all -- of the hotel bills," said Steve Crosson, council treasurer, of the arrangement the council has with its officers and committee chairmen.
Wilds is chairman of the boxing council committee on international passports.
Crosson said he was unaware of any travel expenses that Wilds has returned.
In interviews Monday and last Thursday, Wilds denied that she double-billed the city for travel expenses in either case, and she asked for more time to review her records before commenting in detail.
On Tuesday, Wilds sent a $2,745 check to the Newark-based boxing federation for trip expenses in 1983 and 1985, said Robert W. Lee, the federation's president.
Lee said he received the check yesterday in a Federal Express packet, along with a note from Wilds that said the money was for travel expenses she had received from the organization for five trips.
The trips were to New Orleans, Atlantic City, Reno, Nev., Manila and Dearborn, Mich. These were the same trips Wilds had charged to the city, according to city records.
Wilds, 42, could not be reached for comment yesterday despite several calls to her home and her offices at the boxing commission and the University of the District of Columbia, where she is a political science instructor.
Asked on Monday whether she intended to reimburse the city or the organizations for her expenses, she said the question was "kind of amusing."
D.C. Council member Frank Smith Jr. (D-Ward 1) said yesterday that he had "asked the city auditor to specifically examine travel-related transactions and possible violations arising from reimbursements by parties other than the D.C. government."
Lucenia Dunn, a spokeswoman for the D.C. Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs, the agency that oversees the boxing commission, said she was surprised by Wilds' expenses.
"I was unaware of the double-billing," Dunn said. "This information that you have here makes this another ball game."
Dunn said the agency is conducting an audit of the boxing commission expenses and will review payments for travel.
Since 1982, Wilds has received about $13,950 from the city for travel expenses to nine events sponsored by the IBF-USBA and the WBC, according to District records released last week by Smith. Wilds' travel expenses have been controversial since 1983 and were the subject of a public hearing by the D.C. Council last week.
During the hearing, Wilds defended her trip expenses as necessary in her role as chairman of the boxing commission. She said the trips were essential "for the improvement of the sport in the city."
The city's boxing commission's primary responsibility is to regulate local amateur and professional boxing and wrestling matches.
The $2,745 reimbursement to the federation included three trips in 1983: $401 for New Orleans; $454 for Atlantic City, and $982 for Reno.
In addition, the check included $710 in expenses for a 1985 trip to Manila and $198 toward a 1985 trip to Dearborn. Wilds previously had paid $292.75 to the federation for the Dearborn trip, according to Lee, the federation president.
During that period, Wilds was a member of the boxing federation's executive committee. For the Dearborn trip, the organization arranged for her hotel bill to be charged directly to it, said IBF-USBA treasurer Bob Weitzel.
Another executive committee member, who asked not to be identified, said he recalled watching Wilds check out of the Dearborn hotel and ask for an itemized receipt.
District records show that Wilds submitted that receipt, for more than $400 in hotel expenses, to substantiate her reimbursement.