Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel confirmed Wednesday that he repaid the city $14,623 in costs from taxpayer-funded business trips.
"Over the last three years, we had a series of trips and we've done the things we've needed to do to make it right," he told reporters at a news conference.
"We made a policy. It's fully transparent. We've gone beyond the law and paid back what we owed to the taxpayers," said Emanuel, referring to newly minted, vaguely defined rules that restrict the mayor from spending public money on unspecified "campaign-related business."
Earlier the Chicago Tribune reported that Emanuel paid back the five-figure sum after the city found that he used tax dollars to cover expenses related to seven trips of political orientation—including an expensive four-night hotel stay in DC for the 2013 presidential inauguration. (That bill amounted to $8,811.)
According to the Trib, he didn't reimburse cash from three trips wherein he spent time with political donors and six trips wherein he spent almost no time on Chicago-related work. The paper previously reported Emanuel had banked some 56 out-of-town trips since taking office in 2011, with City Hall footing a $325,000 travel bill for the mayoral entourage plus $30,000 in private car expenses.
Also on Wednesday, Emanuel signed an executive order requiring city contractors and subcontractors to pay employees a $13-an-hour minimum wage. Officials said it will apply to city contractors advertised after Oct. 1 and will affect about 1,000 contracted employees including landscapers, maintenance workers, security officers and custodial workers.
Seeking re-election next year, and dogged by low approval numbers, Emanuel has recently stepped up a commitment to progressive causes like increasing the minimum wage and expanding universal pre-K in city schools.