The Herald reports:
Auckland City Mayor John Banks has admitted claiming $438.80 in entertainment costs after issuing a Super City mayoral campaign bulletin saying he had “never charged a sandwich, lunch or coffee to the ratepayers of Auckland”.
And he broke council rules when office staff sought reimbursement for the entertainment against a bill for private use of his cellphone instead of making an expenses claim.
Last night, Mr Banks said it was a genuine mistake to say he had never charged anything to ratepayers outside work in the Town Hall, and he would run a correction in his next online campaign bulletin.
“I completely forgot about any of that [entertaining]. I’m not making any excuses. I’m putting my hand up.
“On this one occasion, that amount of money, $438, was offset against the money I owed the council for private use of my cellphone.
“I had never seen the prescribed form that you have to claim on if you want any money back, until Friday. I have never made an application, and I have never made a claim.”
Under an agreement with the council, Mr Banks reimburses the city 15 per cent of his mobile phone costs to cover his private calls.
The $438.80 claim covers four occasions – entertaining the United States Ambassador at Euro Restaurant on the waterfront for $215.50, catching up with arts patron James Wallace at Frasers cafe in Mt Eden ($23.80), discussing the Peter Blake memorial with businessman John Street at the Stamford Plaza Hotel ($44) and having lunch with Britomart developer Peter Cooper at the Northern Club ($155.50).
The lesson for Banks is one should ask staff to check the facts before making a denial off memory.
While embarrassing to have to correct yourself, it is refreshing to see that the names of the people entertained have been supplied. This allows ratepayers to conclude for themselves if the expenditure was appropriate and reasonable.Tags: John Banks