NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Brooklyn Borough President Marty Markowitz is fighting back after the Conflicts of Interest Board recently slapped him with the largest fine in its history.
You could say love of his wife, Jamie, made him do it.
“Some men get into trouble when they go on business trips without their wife. I’m getting in trouble because I wanted my wife to be with me,” Markowitz said in an exclusive interview with CBS 2’s Marcia Kramer.
The “trouble” cost Markowitz a whopping $20,000. That was the fine the Conflicts of Interest Board slapped him with for accepting free travel for his wife when she came with him on three trips abroad.
“I think it’s outrageous and it’s ill advised,” Markowitz said. “Not one penny from the state, from the city covered the trips, official trips that I went on with my wife.”
Markowitz tried to get the Conflicts of Interest Board to green light his wife’s freebies by arguing that she is the “first lady of Brooklyn,” much as Michelle Obama is the first lady of the United States. The Board didn’t buy it and neither does Susan Lerner of Common Cause, a good government group.
“Let’s be honest, there is no first lady of Brooklyn. It’s not as if the borough president is the president of the United States. It’s really actually an embarrassing comparison and he should be ashamed,” Lerner said.
“I mean, he gets a salary right?” Bedford Stuyvesant resident Lisa Scott-Spencer asked Kramer, adding when she was told he makes $160,000 per year, “he’s supposed to take care of his wife with that $160,000.”
“I don’t think he should have done it,” added David Corwin of Brooklyn Heights.
“I think it’s disgusting. I’m a retired correction officer and I dealt with criminals for 22 years that does not exclude the likes of Marty Markowitz,” said Tina Butler of East New York.
Markowitz had this to say in response:
“They’re totally wrong. If anything it’s 100 percent ethical. I reported it. It’s not that they discovered it. I’m being punished for representing New York City, or they’d rather me go alone without my wife. Well, I’m not going to go without my wife.”
The borough president argues that officials will reverse the policy the minute people elect a non-billionaire mayor who wants to take his or her partner with them when they travel to represent the city.
The trips were paid for by local governments in Turkey and the Netherlands.
Do you think the fine is fair? Please offer your thoughts in the comments section below.