Marty: Let Jamie take international freebies!

The Brooklyn Paper
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He won’t let this one die.

Fresh from last week’s slap for bringing his wife on three international junkets, Borough President Markowitz is demanding that the city relax its regulations so that he and other top elected officials can bring their spouses on the free trips.

“It’s not a law, just a set of regulations that the city has in place,” Markowitz said on Thursday after that most important of officials duties, MC’ing at a deli opening in Bay Ridge. “[The city] should seriously consider clarifiying it.”

He defiantly claimed that Jamie Markowitz’s travel perks were legitimate because she is “the First Lady of Brooklyn,” a position that exists in spirit, though not in law.

Under the Beep’s proposal, such borough “first ladies” would be allowed to take the same freebies that are lavished on their elected spouses, who are allowed to take free trips to promote the borough or the city — as Markowitz did on the trips to Turkey and the Netherlands in 2007 and 2009.

His wife tagged along and got free travel, earning the fine.

“[Markowitz] received the trips abroad because of his position as borough president of Brooklyn, and his wife went on all three trips because of her relationship with him,” Judge Kevin Casey ruled last week. “By accepting travel expenses for his wife, [Markowitz] used his position as a public servant for private or personal advantage.”

Markowitz disagreed, saying that the freebies were a gift from a foreign government, not an abuse of American taxpapers.

“I should be commended,” he said.

But watchdog groups say Markowitz — and his wife — crossed a clear line when they accepted free travel accommodations.

“The borough president is not the equivalent to the mayor or the president of the United States,” said Susan Lerner, executive director of Common Cause New York.

“At the least, it’s an unseemly appearance of influence. From the public’s point of view, we need our elected officials to say, ‘I don’t accept gifts, I don’t take favors, I put the public’s interest first.’ ”

Markowitz’s call for relaxed ethics law would stopped short of lower-level elected officials such as common city councilmembers.

“A legislator is only one out of 50, out of 60, out of 80,” he said. “A borough president is one out of one.” (There actually are five borough presidents.)

Still some councilmembers are backing Markowitz’s bid to increase his wife’s ability to join him on lavish international trips, saying that Jamie Markowitz is, indeed, our First Lady.

“Wives play an official part the lives of elected officials,” said Councilman Dominic Recchia (D–Coney Island). “People come up to our wives, ‘Oh I’m having a problem with this; I’m having a problem with that.’ And our wives come back to us. They’re involved in our professional lives.”

And Councilman Lew Fidler (D–Marine Park) said the council’s ruling was an unfair and harsh reading of the law.

“What they did to the borough president bordered on surreal,” said Fidler. “[Turkey and the Netherlands] weren’t buying any undue influence. What was the advantage to them? It’s not like they were going to get a discount on the Brooklyn Bridge.”

The first lady of Brooklyn may not share the prestige — or workload — of Michelle Obama, but she gets an A for attendance.

The beep’s better half is constantly at his side at galas for Prospect Park and the Brooklyn Museum, and rides to events in style thanks to taxpayer-funded chauffeurs in Marty’s government vehicle.

She also served as the public face in her husband’s annual “Take Your Man to the Doctor Week,” which pushes for wives to get their men to get regular checkups; and was the keynote speaker at Courier-Life’s “Women of Distinction” event earlier this summer, a tribute to great Brooklyn women created by our sister-publication.

This isn’t the first time Markowitz has gotten a slap on the wrist, but it is the most severe punishment to date — and the second this year alone.

In January, the city slapped him with a $2,000 fine after his chief of staff, Carlo Scissura, represented him pro-bono when he bought a house in 2009.

And it’s not the first time that Jamie Markowitz drawn flack for snagging swag. Two years ago, she made headlines for swiping eight placemats designed by Japanese artist Takashi Murakami and intended as parting gifts at a Brooklyn Museum gala.

Updated 5:25 pm, July 9, 2018
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Reasonable discourse

tee gee from sunset park says:
did marty get "fined" or merely forced to pay the value of the freebies? i think he just paid the cost. he should be fined on top of that.

and if the lawmakers are gonna change anything - make it illegal for boro presidents to accept freebies of any kind...why do we allow foeign countries & businesses to lobby our officials?

fortunately all marty has done thru his years on nyc political welfare is host concerts and speak at graduations. he has no influence.
Aug. 1, 2011, 5:03 am
Dave from Park Slope says:
Impeach Markowitz! And Recchia and Fidler while we're at it.
Aug. 1, 2011, 8:28 am
jerry from brighton baech says:
Marty MO is to always want to changes Laws or Regulations that blocks his agenda.
He's a "quid pro quo" Guy.
He got over $ 17,700 from the Turkish Travel & Tourism Bureau back in 2007 for his Seaside Summer Concerts, when he was pushing for the "Turkish" Taxi of the future. A NO , NO . Marty.
He gets the Marriott Hotels to pay for his other trips when I think City Agencies have office space in the Brooklyn Marriott. A NO, NO Marty.
He wants to change any law that dosen't comply with HIS own BENEFITS.
Does he really need 3 drivers ?
What is really needed is the tighteniong of the EThics Laws not a relaxtion of them.
As a onetime friend of mine who worked for the IRS has said " Follow the Money."
Marty you are aposter boy for " Pay for Play" politics in Brooklyn.
And as far as his Lapdogs , Councilmen Recchia & Fidler you both are not far from behind his Majesty, the King.
As far as I'm concerned they are all bottom feeders. Both Filder & Recchia are the biggest A## Kissers in Southern Brooklyn.One wants to replace Carl Kruger the other wants to be the next BP.
Aug. 1, 2011, 8:29 am
jj from Brooklyn says:
There's PLENTY wrong with Marty … but his wife's tagging along on foreign trips is NOT one of them. Marty's ONLY legitimate role is that of Brooklyn promoter extraordinaire. His wife in fact has assisted with this and deserves a "thank you" and not ongoing ridicule.

I'd guess some of those leading the charge re Jamie's travel are doing so because THEIR spouses are not a part of their workaday lives, or maybe because they view business travel as an opportunity to GET AWAY FROM their wives.
Aug. 1, 2011, 9 am
moishe from midwood says:
@jj... any businessman can tell you , he can't take his wife on a business trip & take it off his travel expenses as a TE.

Marty thinks Jamie is the "Foist Lady of Brooklyn". It's a joke.
And I guess Domenic thinks Kimberly Recchia is the "Foist Lady of his CD" . Another joke.
Aug. 1, 2011, 9:18 am
g from slope says:
Just what everyone wants in a leader: a guy who can't admit when he's wrong.

What makes the BP of Brooklyn different from Scott Stringer? Stinger doesn't accept freebies for his wife, so why does Marty.

These fines and ethical violations are probably just the tip of the iceberg. Marty has to hope he can outrun the next big ones until his term is up in 2013.

For the sake of Brooklyn, 2013 can't come soon enough.
Aug. 1, 2011, 10:08 am
adamben from bedstuy says:
“I should be commended,” he said.

"It’s not like they were going to get a discount on the Brooklyn Bridge.”"

Aug. 1, 2011, 10:39 am
Rob from Greenpoint says:
Any government stupid enough to pay for a junket for this schlub deserves what they get.
Aug. 1, 2011, 10:53 am
jj from Brooklyn says:
Moishe… You are correct, UNLESS the wife actually is doing business. Which is at least open to debate.

g is also correct. Marty should have gracefully accepted the finding and moved on. Instead, he's aggravated his problem.
Aug. 1, 2011, 11:45 am
kalahari dessert from brooklyn says:
What the heck was he doing in Turkey anyway? Soothing political prisoners in dank cells? Meanwhile rats are running right out of his other money fountain's foundation: Ratner's traffic apocalypse. Why is Brooklyn still home to the most corrupt of the most corrupt politicians? Aren't there any smart, honest young people in the borough who can go toe to toe with this hog in the next election?
Aug. 1, 2011, 2:02 pm
g from slope says:
jj, I agree. Marty has practically dared investigators and the ethics board to find more reasons to investigate and fine him.

This guy is so corrupt.
Aug. 1, 2011, 2:26 pm
fed up from slope says:
i'm really getting tired of this schmuck. he's got some f-ing balls, and should be watching his back about his own job. We're firing teachers, firefighters - people doing real jobs and this freeloader holds a ceremonial position with no power whatsoever, and waves our money around like its "free". I am so insulted by this turd, I am going to call the mayor's office and my rep and demand a review of borough "president" positions.

Guess what marty - sure, maybe this trip was just schmoozing, but i'm footing your bill.

STFU you're lucky you have a job as the borough party planner.
Aug. 1, 2011, 4:04 pm
gaston from Brooklyn says:
This is the most important issue the Marty can think of? There are no more important problems in Brooklyn than whether the taxpayers should pay for his wife's travel? C'mon Marty- it's time to start putting Brooklyn first, not yourself. You're supposed to serve the public, not the other way around.
Aug. 1, 2011, 7:17 pm
Tony from Park Slope says:
He should be the subject of an ethics investigation. He's a complete scumbag.
Aug. 2, 2011, 9:01 am
Karen from Madison says:
Brooklyn is not a country, state or city. I can't understand why Marty is travelling to other countries to represent us. There is absolutely no reason for taxpayers to pay for his wife. I wouldn't expect someone else to foot the bill for my man to accompany me on my business trips.
Aug. 6, 2011, 10:43 pm

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