WASHINGTON – Police protecting Mayor Anthony A. Williams (search) when he travels have charged more than $320,000 in expenses on government-issued credit cards, including bills for a Hawaii beachfront hotel, a Las Vegas nightclub and a posh New York City restaurant, it was reported Monday.
The Washington Times, citing records obtained through the Freedom of Information Act (search), reported that since 1999, police have accompanied the mayor on more than 130 trips, charging meals, car rentals, hotels and other expenses totaling $322,480. The charges don't include the officers' salaries or overtime expenses.
Tony Bullock, spokesman for the mayor, said Williams' travels had helped bring business, jobs and investment to the nation's capital and that out-of-town security for the mayor was necessary. "I don't think anyone would begrudge the costs of keeping the mayor safe," he said. "You don't send a sitting mayor into a strange city without security. It's not safe."
Various organizations often contribute to the mayor's travel, but the city generally pays the travel costs of police officers who protect him during out-of-town trips. For example, the Washington Convention and Tourism Corp. (search) donated $5,500 for Williams and his staff to attend an American Society of Association Executives (search) meeting in Hawaii last August. But the city paid more than $7,900 so that a police officer and detective could accompany Williams, according to the Times.
Among the expenses billed to government credit cards on various trips were for charges at the Tavern on the Green (search) in New York City and the "Rum Jungle" night spot in Las Vegas, the newspaper reported.