Corrupt Politicians and Tools of the Gulen Movement

Corrupt Politicians and Tools of the Gulen Movement
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Monday, July 25, 2011

Markowitz fined $20,000 for FREE trips to Turkey.

Marty and Jamie Markowitz
loving the "good life" all paid for by others

July 25, 2011, 1:06 pm
Markowitz Fined $20,000 for Wife’s Free Overseas Trips
Brooklyn Borough President’s OfficeMarty and Jamie Markowitz in 2008.
Updated, 3:54 p.m. | When Brooklyn’s borough president, Marty Markowitz, took trips to Turkey and the Netherlands on official city business several years ago, he also accepted free travel expenses for his wife, Jamie Markowitz.
The city’s Conflicts of Interest Board deemed it an ethical violation and fined him $20,000, according to the findings released on Monday. (See below.)
The travel covered two trips to Turkey, one in 2007 and another in 2009, and a trip to the Netherlands in 2009, which the board estimated were worth at least $11,000, though not substantially more in free travel expenses for Mrs. Markowitz. “By accepting travel expenses for his wife for each trip,” the board said in its findings, Mr. Markowitz “used his position as a public servant for private or personal advantage. Simply put, his wife was able to travel with him abroad — for free.”
This is the second ethics fine Mr. Markowitz has racked up this year. In February, the board docked him $2,000 for using his chief of staff as his lawyer at a 2009 real estate closing.
The first trip to Turkey, in August 2007, was made by the borough president to promote Brooklyn tourism, and the Turkish government paid some of Ms. Markowitz’s expenses, the ethics board reported. The trip to the Netherlands, in March 2009, was to celebrate the 400th anniversary of Henry Hudson’s sailing to New York, and the Dutch government paid for her expenses after a member of the delegation of eight New Yorkers dropped out.
A nonprofit association, the Federation of Turkish American Associations, paid for the third trip to Turkey in November 2009, which was to develop Brooklyn’s sister-city status with Izmir.
Mr. Markowitz, said in a phone interview on Monday that he would pay the fine, but he called it a “terrible decision,” and said that the Conflicts of Interest Board had “very narrow vision” when making it.
He said that neither he nor his wife received any personal benefit from the trips, specifically the two to Turkey.
“I had a real role -– my wife and I visited mosques, schools, youth centers,” he said. “When they bring you over, it’s not vacation -– they make you work.”
The board maintained that Ms. Markowitz, 53, is not an official staff member of the borough president’s office. But Mr. Markowitz, 66, said that it was part of his duty as borough president, representing a city with a diverse international population, to bring his wife because that it is protocol for other countries that invite foreign dignitaries.
“I am mayor of Brooklyn, no I am not mayor, I am the borough president,” he said, correcting himself. “But when you are in a foreign country, they look upon the job a little differently. They see me as the chief executive officer of the city of Brooklyn.”
The board said that at one point in his testimony, he referred to his wife as “the first lady of Brooklyn.”
He quibbled with the board’s finding that expenses for accommodations and meals -– specifically in the Netherlands -– should have been divided.
“When you go to a hotel, the price is for double occupancy,” he said. “And how do you break it up when you go to buffets that are sponsored by governments?”
The Conflicts of Interest Board cited a New York City Charter provision that states that “no public servant shall use or attempt to use his or her position as a public servant to obtain any financial gain, contract, license, privilege or other private or personal advantage, direct or indirect, for the public servant or any person or firm associated with the public servant.”
The board had originally recommended that Mr. Markowitz be fined $30,000 ($10,000 for each violation, which at the time was the maximum penalty allowed).
But in May, Judge Kevin F. Casey of the city’s Office of Administrative Trials and Hearings recommended that Mr. Markowitz be fined $3,000 for the 2007 Turkey trip; $7,000 for the Netherlands trip; and $10,000 for the 2009 Turkey trip. He recommended the highest fine for the last trip because Mr. Markowitz was by then on notice that it would be a violation to accept such expenses. The board followed the judge’s lead.
Mr. Markowitz said the ruling would make him change his decisions. “It means if we are to get invited by a foreign country, if I choose to go because it helps Brooklyn, obviously if my wife joins me, we will have to pay for her. I don’t agree.”
He added: “I thought I was doing the right thing, and I still believe it.”
“I felt, No. 1, I have no conflict of interest, I was not doing business with private entities that do business with New York city, and I was not using a dollar of taxpayers money. I see it as an extension of my job.”
He added: “Some guys get into trouble traveling without their wives. I get into trouble traveling with my wife.”

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