Hair Balls recently noted that CM Helena Brown recently submitted an expense report for nearly $11,000 for a plane ticket to Korea; they raised issues about her soliciting donations outside the allowed fundraising period to cover that expense. The Chron picks up the story.
A statement released by Brown’s office Tuesday states that her adviser William Park – who is not a paid member of her staff – sent an email to Korean community leaders saying that if they wanted to sponsor a businessman on the trip they could do so via Brown’s office.
“That statement was sent in error. While CM (council member) Brown could be the vehicle by which private financial assistance of non-city employees could be handled, CM Brown understood full well that this type of situation might be misconstrued as a campaign contribution during the “black-out” period and therefore instructed all potential contributors who communicated to her to deal privately with potential delegation participants instead,” the statement reads.
Brown was in Asia from June 30 through July 7 seeking to increase the number of direct flights from Asia to Houston, according to the statement.
Brown’s statement says she was invited on the trip by Houston Airport System Director Mario Diaz, but an email from a spokeswoman for Mayor Annise Parker states that Brown asked to accompany Diaz, who visited Asia in a bid to lay the groundwork for more nonstop flights from Asia to Houston.
Establishing a direct flight from Houston to Incheon is “one of her many priorities of public office,” according to the statement.
According to records obtained by the Houston Chronicle, Brown charged $10,883.57 to a city purchasing card for flights to Tokyo, Taipei, Beijing and Seoul. The money comes from her council office budget. The charges do not include a return trip fare to Houston, though Brown still can file for reimbursements. It is not apparent from the report whether she covered the expenses of any other travelers.
Diaz was apparently originally scheduled to go to Korea as well, but that wound up getting canceled. Brown went on her own and met with officials there. One can only imagine how those conversations went.
This all raises as many questions as it answers. I guess I’m just stunned that Brown has “priorities of public office” that include spending money on anything. I don’t know how one would square all her anti-government anti-spending rhetoric that we’ve been subjected to with this revelation, but then I think all of that rhetoric is so much palaver. I’m glad it’s not my job to try to make it all tie together. What will the people who support her and actually buy into that baloney think of this?