Judicial Watch Obtains Documents from DC Mayor’s Office re: Mayor Fenty’s Overseas Trip to Dubai in February 2009
Judicial Watch, the public interest group that investigates and prosecutes government corruption, announced today that it has obtained documents from the Office of the Secretary for the District of Columbia related to Mayor Adrian Fenty’s travel itinerary, including the mayor’s controversial trip to Dubai, February 15-22, 2009. Included among the documents is the original “application to approve donations” from the Office of Partnerships and Grants in the mayor’s office detailing the $25,000 February 13th in-kind donation made by Yousef Al-Otaiba, United Arab Emirates Ambassador to the United States and Mexico, to cover the mayor’s travel expenses during the Dubai trip. The documents also detail a separate trip made by Mayor Fenty to China during the 2008 Summer Olympic Games.
The documents, obtained under provisions of the District’s Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), describe the purpose of the Dubai trip as follows: “Cultural and economic exchange, including the Mayor’s travel and accommodations for the official portion of his trip to Dubai, UAE, during which he will be representing the District of Columbia and acting in his official capacity at meetings with UAE local government and business leaders.”
Mayor Fenty sustained heavy criticism for making the “unannounced” trip to Dubai in February where he attended the Dubai Tennis Championships, during which a female Israeli tennis player was prohibited from competing in the tournament. As a member of the DC City Council, Fenty had harshly criticized then-Mayor Anthony Williams for taking overseas trips, many of which were funded by foreign governments.
Mayor Fenty’s trip to China, which cost $11,300 according to the documents uncovered by Judicial Watch, was paid for by the governments of Shanghai and Beijing, as well as the Chinese People’s Association for Friendship, a Chinese government entity. One letter, signed by the Director General of Beijing’s Foreign Affairs Office states: “…The City of Beijing will, as always, attach great importance to the sister-city relationship between our two cities, and will further enhance this relationship in an effort to promote our common prosperity and development.” At the time, Mayor Fenty described the Beijing trip as a “private vacation.”
“Mayor Fenty works for the taxpayers of Washington, DC, not the UAE or the Communist Chinese government,” stated Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton. “Mayor Fenty’s decision to take these donations through his office from foreign governments demonstrates an appalling lack of judgment. The Mayor ought to be taking vacations on his own dime.”