De Blasio Aide Billed Taxpayers for Uber Ride

Italy trip cost New Yorkers thousands of dollars

September 4, 2015

An aide for New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio charged taxpayers for an Uber ride, a company the mayor’s office has waged war against.

Monica Klein, deputy press secretary for de Blasio’s "Italian desk," traveled with the mayor on his vacation to Rome last July. Before leaving, she charged the city for her Uber to City Hall with her luggage, a 35-minute ride that cost $28.03, according to receipts obtained by the Washington Free Beacon through a Freedom of Information Law request.

De Blasio went to war against the popular ridesharing service earlier this summer when he attempted to place a cap on the number of vehicles Uber could have in the city. The mayor called Uber a "corporate giant" that needs to be reined in.

De Blasio ultimately dropped his plan, though he threatened that the cap remains on the table. "I don’t care how much money they have," he said. "There will be rules."

The mayor’s office did not return request for comment by press time.

Aside from picking up Uber rides, New York City taxpayers were billed for over $10,000 in expenses for de Blasio’s aides during the trip. The Free Beacon asked for any records related to expenses for de Blasio and his aides’ visit to Italy that were paid for by the city government.

The city also paid for Klein’s $1,869.10 flight with Delta Air, a $10.56 agent fee with the travel agency Euro Lloyd, and over $900 in expenses during the 10-day trip. Klein reportedly is fluent in Italian and assisted with translation.

An expense report filed Aug. 1, 2014 totaled $913.56, including her $699.88 (524 euro) stay at the Royal Palace luxury hotel in Rome, which offers a complimentary "relaxing massage" to guests. Other expenses were for newspapers, cabs, printing paper, and a $6.68 stapler.

The city also paid for flights for Laura Santucci, de Blasio’s former chief of staff, and Philip Walzak, the mayor’s press secretary, from JFK to Fiumicino, costing $2,011.20, and $2,151.70, respectively.

Bank statements also showed receipts from the Royal Palace Hotel totaling $1,417.90, four transactions with the Mercure Angioino hotel in Napoli totaling $1,018.16, and $118.59 at the Best Western Hotel Duca d'Aosta in Pescara. Foreign transaction fees totaled $18.46.

New York City taxpayers were also billed $104 for a one room, one night stay on July 22 at Agriturismo Mustilli near Sant'Agata Dé Goti, described as a "fantastic 17th century mansion," as well as $447.78 for a standard double room for two nights beginning on July 25 at Pensione Accademia Villa Maraverge in Venice.

Mayor de Blasio paid for himself and his family, though taxpayers picked up the tab for the white Mercedez he used throughout Italy.

A spokesperson at the time told the New York Daily News that is was necessary for the city to pay for the travel of de Blasio’s aides because the "mayor will have official governmental and public press events while in Italy, [and] there is a need for City Hall staff."

The Daily News put the total tab for de Blasio’s aides at $12,800.