ALBUQUERQUE – An Albuquerque city councilor’s trip to three East Coast cities cost is raising questions over her $6,300 bill to taxpayers.
Albuquerque City Councilor Klarissa Pena traveled in June to Philadelphia, New York City and Washington to attend a conference for city council presidents in Philadelphia, KOAT-TV reports.
Records show Pena billed the city $3,290 for train tickets and another $2,082 for hotels.
Pena told the television station she took a train because she’s afraid of planes.
She also took her husband and two grandchildren and defended the move since she said the family rarely travels. “I thought it would be a very unique opportunity,” Pena said. “I come from ... we don’t have a lot of money. So, I come from where this was a great opportunity to take my grandkids. Obviously, my expenses were going to be covered, so that would be a reduced cost for my family.”
Paul Gessing, president of the taxpayer watch group the Rio Grande Foundation, called the expenses “brazen.”
“The sheer amount of high-dollar expenditures approved theoretically by folks at the city in advance, which is even more troubling,” Gessing said.
Pena said city accountants approved the trip and she violated no city policies.
Pena said she paid for her family’s meals, taxis and Uber trips.