A Cleveland City councilman defended his decision to spend more than $5,000 of campaign donations on trips outside of Cleveland last year.
— Derick Waller News 5 (@derickwallerTV) November 17, 2016
Ward 2 councilman Zack Reed’s most recent campaign finance report listed trips to New York City, Washington D.C., Ft. Lauderdale and San Francisco, among other locations. The expenditures included airfare, hotel stays, dinners and cab fare. No other city councilman listed such expenditures.
News 5 attempted to interview Reed for several weeks about the expenses. When tracked down on Tuesday, Reed said the trips were work-related, centered around meetings and conferences with law enforcement and community leaders in an effort to find solutions to reducing violence in the city.
“Every one of those trips that you have, I can justify,” Reed said giving several examples.
“We were trying to get the head of the Centers for Disease Control to come and speak to us about how we can look at this violence from a public health standpoint,” Reed said.
Reed said his travel to find best practices in other cities also resulted in $75,000 in funding for a peacekeeping program.
Ohio law leaves candidates leeway in how they can use other people’s money. According to Secretary of State John Husted’s office, "All expenditures made by a campaign committee must be for influencing the result of an election, a campaign expense, the candidate’s duties of public office, or making a charitable contribution."
“This is a discretion on my part to make a decision on whether or we can expense,” Reed said.
View Reed's campaign expense report below:
News 5 tracked down Reed at City Hall on Tuesday after the councilman claimed over the phone just minutes beforehand that he was not in the building. That’s despite the fact that his car could be seen parked in the garage.