Monday, September 25, 2006

The Sharpe James Travel Experience

$84,000 spent in the final three months James was mayor. Puerto Rico, Brazil, Martha's Vineyard and Detroit, were the destinations, and he was often accompanied by bodyguards and aides.

Tell me what the heck he was doing in any of these locations and how they were work related. Better yet, explain that to the voters in Newark who continue to support James, who is a State Senator. Explain to those voters where the money is coming from to reimburse the city for those expenditures.
Some of James' travels, including a $6,500 trip to Rio de Janeiro during his final week in office, previously were reported by The Star-Ledger. But additional records obtained through the state's Open Public Records Act reveal the magnitude of the mayor's spending during his lame duck period and also suggest he was a chief executive who had little oversight of where he traveled or how much he spent.

For example, James, unlike other city employees, was not required to have travel requests pre-approved, and came and went as he pleased, said former Newark Business Administrator Richard Monteilh. The records also show James' expenses often were reimbursed without an explanatory voucher.

The revelation of the new expenses before James left office comes amid mounting evidence that state and federal investigations into his spending are widening. Federal investigators, who already have demanded a wide range of documents from City Hall, recently subpoenaed four of the ex-mayor's police bodyguards to testify before a federal grand jury, an attorney involved in the case disclosed on Friday.

State investigators also have questioned several people with knowledge of James' credit card charges, and plan to bring in others for interviews, a state law enforcement official with direct knowledge of the case said last week.

Both officials declined to be named because of the sensitive nature of the investigation.
It seems that James and his associates may have more explaining to do in the future, as an investigation looms.

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