CHICAGO (CBS) — After news broke that Rahm Emanuel stayed in an $1,800 a night hotel suite on the taxpayer’s dime, the mayor’s office on Friday said Emanuel will reimburse the city for the expense.
Emanuel spent $8,244 in public money for the four-night stay at the DC Park Hyatt for President Obama’s second inauguration.
It wasn’t your run-of-the-mill room. The penthouse Ambassador Suite included a grand piano, sweeping views of the nation’s capital, an office and a guest room.
Reaction was harsh once the news broke about the trip, originally billed to the taxpayers of Chicago.
“I think it’s a little outrageous,” one Chicago resident said. “It makes you feel like they’re all in it just for the money.”
Conservative talk show host Dan Proft put it bluntly: “He’s living the style of the rich and famous at taxpayer expense.
“What he should do is repay all of the money spent on his travel.”
The mayor argued he did work for the voters during his D.C. visit, but has now agreed to pay the money back.
Mayoral spokeswoman Sarah Hamilton points out “the dozens of taxpayer-paid flights to D.C. have paid off with $1 billion in federal funds for Chicago, mostly transportation dollars.”
Proft is unconvinced.
“It doesn’t seem to me there’s a policy with bright lines explaining when are taxpayers on the hook for official business and when they’re on the hook anyway to finance Rahm’s personal lifestyle.”
In fact a Chicago Tribune investigation found that the mayor has spent some $325,000 on about 50 trips since taking office.
However, the mayor’s office contends that Emanuel promotes the city tirelessly and that has brought big bucks back to the city.