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Brooklyn Borough President Marty Markowitz is in trouble, to the tune of $20,000, for accepting free travel and other accommodations for his wife, Jamie, on recent trips to Turkey and the Netherlands. The city’s Conflicts of Interests board ruled that Markowitz is allowed to accept free travel for business purposes, but that that does not include his wife, who was “at no time…an employee of the Borough President’s office or any other city agency.” Markowitz has argued that his wife is “the First Lady of Brooklyn” so should get what, say, Michelle Obama does. He also said he needs his wife with him in order to perform his business duties because he is “not a good flyer.”
The judge shot him down in May:
“The comparison is inapt,” the judge wrote in a May decision.”There is simply no meaningful comparison between the role of First Lady of the United States and the First Lady of Brooklyn.”
As for the flying thing, the judge said it was his decision to go, and “bringing his wife was a personal advantage.”
The country of Turkey paid for $4,999 worth of travel arrangements for Mrs. Markowitz in 2007, and the Netherlands paid for $39,999 worth of expenses in 2009. Later in 2009 more expenses were paid by Turkey. Markowitz said in a statement today that he thinks the fine is unfair and he’s not ashamed of what he did. He also said, via the Daily News, that he will pay the fine.
“I have no choice,” he said. “Most guys get into trouble when they don’t take their wives. I take my wife and I get into trouble.”