Glendale councilman racks up $23k in expenses

Posted at 9:32 PM, Mar 08, 2016
and last updated 2016-03-09 00:07:09-05

Pricey hotels, expensive meals and fees for flight changes and extra baggage were some of the expenses Glendale City Councilman Sammy Chavira submitted to the city for reimbursement. 

Others included airfare to see the Pope in Washington D.C. and to attend the swearing in of local Congressman Ruben Gallego. The trip to see the pontiff alone was nearly $2,000, including $217 in meals for the three days.

In all, they totaled more than $23,000 since March 2013, the first year he was in office.  A $420 seafood dinner was included, several City of Phoenix public safety officials were named in expense reports as joining Chavira for that meal.

ABC15 reached out to Chavira to ask him about the receipts and how the expenses related to city business, but we did not hear back.

Rep. Warren Petersen, (R) 12 District recently introduced a bill that would make misuse of taxpayer money a felony. He called it the "Banta Bill", named after former Valley Metro CEO Stephen Banta who resigned after his exorbitant spending of public money came to light.

"I think the ultimate insult is some of these people, they may quit and walk away with huge payouts, huge golden parachutes," Rep. Petersen said.

Petersen said the bill needs to go to a judiciary committee hearing.

According to Assistant Glendale City Manager Tom Duensing, the travel expense policy for council members differs from what other city workers have to follow. Council members do not have to get advance approval for travel. Also, other city staffers don't have the right tell them what is reasonable and what isn't.

Vice Mayor Ian Hugh said he expects the matter to come up in an executive session. Hugh said in order to impose any sanctions, council would need a two-thirds vote.