It took a Chicago Tribune investigation to get it, but Chicago taxpayers have been reimbursed $14,623 from Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel. The incredibly high amount of money is for trips taken by Chicago’s mayor on the taxpayer’s money. According to a Chicago Tribune report on Thursday, Rahm Emanuel confirmed on Wednesday that he has repaid the city over $14,000 in costs from his tax-payer-funded business trips.
Emanuel told media at a news conference that over the past three years he had taken a series of trips, and he said that he has done the things that were needed to be done to make it right. He said that “we” made a policy that is fully transparent. He now asserts that the city has gone beyond the law and paid back what was owed to the taxpayers. It was reported that this statement makes reference to rules that restrict the mayor from spending public money on unspecified campaign-related business, according to NBC News.
It is not clear why Emanuel or anyone else would even think to charge the taxpayers for a public official to go off to campaign. Nonetheless, the previous Chicago Tribune report found that Emanuel used taxpayers’ dollars to cover expenses related to seven trips of a political nature. The now-reimbursed expenses included an expensive four-night hotel stay in Washington, D.C. for the 2013 presidential inauguration. That bill, alone, cost the taxpayers $8,811 at the time.
According to the Chicago Tribune report, Emanuel did not reimburse money from three trips where he spent time with political donors and six trips where he spent almost no time on Chicago-related work. It has not been explained why. The same report asserts that Emanuel took some 56 trips out-of-town since he became mayor three years ago. City Hall paid $325,000 for the travel expenses for the mayor’s entourage as well as $39,999 in private care expenses.
Stories such as these obviously do not help Emanuel as he struggles with an extremely low job approval rating in recent times. He is up for re-election in early 2015. To date, his competitors for the job are likely to be Chicago Teachers’ Union President Karen Lewis and Alderman Robert Fioretti of the city’s 2nd ward. The very popular president of Cook County, Toni Preckwinkle, says she is not running for Emanuel’s job – for which he can be grateful.