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Audit reveals questionable spending habits of Newark politicos

Glenn Townes | 12/5/2013, 4:05 p.m.

Once again, members of the embattled Newark City Council are under fire from state officials regarding questionable spending habits last year after a report from the comptroller’s office was released earlier this week.

According to a widely circulated audit report from New Jersey Comptroller Matt Boxer, more than $10 million in Brick City appropriations were allocated to Newark City Council and clerk offices—a figure that is more than six times the annual allotment to the similarly sized area of Jersey City. Prominently highlighted in the comptroller report are the activities of Newark Council Member Mildred Crump. The report indicates that Crump “steered” some funds to various charities and organizations of which she is actively involved.

In a brief statement to the media, the feisty Crump denied doing anything illicit or untoward. She said, “I have projects which I support! That is different than steering!”

Also highlighted in Boxer’s report are travel and other expenses for former Mayor Cory Booker and council members. Some charges include more than $11,000 in photography services, nearly $3,000 in holiday decoration expenses for council members and a whopping $3,900 expense for a hotel bill for members of a softball team visiting Newark last year. Boxer said some of the charges included in the audit are being reviewed.

In the past, Newark City Council members have been slammed by members of the Booker administration, state officials and Newarkers regarding extravagant spending habits and sloppy and inept money handling practices. Additionally, a few years ago, state officials in Trenton came within days of issuing financial sanctions against council members and yanking millions in aid to the Brick City due to council members’ lethargy in submitting a complete budget proposal to state officials for approval.