Miami Beach mayor’s trip to Switzerland draws ethics complaint — again

09/16/2012 12:00 AM

09/14/2012 4:54 PM

Miami Beach’s mayor and city manager took part in an annual tradition this summer by flying to Switzerland as part of a city-sponsored Art Basel delegation.

In what is becoming a new tradition, the Miami-Dade Commission on Ethics and Public Trust has again taken interest in the details of their trip.

One year after the ethics commission found that then-city manager Jorge Gonzalez failed to disclose his wife’s publicly funded travel to Europe as a gift from the city, an investigator has requested proof that Mayor Matti Herrera Bower paid her own way during a European vacation with the Gonzalez family following the conclusion of the renowned arts festival.

“They wanted to see if I paid my share of the vacation. I sent all my checks” to show that that was indeed the case, Bower said.

Bower’s reimbursement filings show the Gonzalezes reserved her return flight to Miami from Málaga, Spain, which raised flags with complainant Mike Burke. The city paid for the flight, however, as the mayor was conducting official business.

Burke, an activist and Bower critic, said he is concerned that the mayor “co-mingled funds” with Gonzalez and should recuse herself from involvement in negotiating a roughly $400,000 severance with the former city manager.

“I’m not making accusations,” Burke said. “But I am demanding some answers.”

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