• 9 Investigates tax dollar spending by Orlando city commissioners


    ORLANDO, Fla. - 9 Investigates learned your tax dollars are paying for some pricey perks enjoyed by Orlando city commissioners.

    Channel 9's Lori Brown spent months going through commissioners' expenses and found receipts for everything from a new office to expensive trips.

    If you live in the city, you're paying for it: artwork, an office outside City Hall, flowers, parties, hotel rooms and plane tickets.

    City commissioners have expensed thousands in meals, parties, hotel rooms and expensive trips.

    Brown dug through two years' worth of city commissioners' expenses to see the purchases each made with your money.

    District 1 Commissioner Jim Gray spent $6,700 decorating his City Hall office.

    "How do you justify spending $6,700 to furnish an office?" Brown asked.

    "What I found when I came into office is this office had not been refurbished, retrofit in 10 years," Gray explained.

    In District 2, Commissioner Tony Ortiz spent $37,000 on a building that houses his new office 4 miles away from City Hall.

    "To some people, it doesn't look good to spend more than $30,000 on an office," Brown said.

    "It's not an office," Ortiz responded. "It's a building for community meetings."

    In District 5, Commissioner Daisy Lynum used public money to buy nearly $4,000 worth of flowers.

    Public money also paid $20,000 for her airfare and hotels in places like Equatorial Guinea in Africa.

    After getting no responses from Lynum, Brown tried tracking her down at events she was scheduled to attend, but she was a no-show.

    And in District 6, taxpayers spent $43,000 on Sam Ings' community parties and $17,000 on hotels, rental cars and airfare, including airfare for his wife.

    "Can you tell me why taxpayers paid to fly your wife out two times?" Brown asked.

    "Did you check with the city to see if the city was reimbursed for those trips?" Ings asked.

    Brown did and days later, the city produced receipts. One trip to Boston was repaid last year, but the other flight his wife took a year ago to Washington, D.C., was only reimbursed five days after we confronted Ings.

    Another expense that was not reimbursed: Airfare to fly in three musicians from New Orleans.

    "Couldn't you have used some local talent?" Brown asked. "Commissioner, we're just trying to figure out how these things benefited taxpayers."

    That's a question Ings never attempted to answer.

    Taxpayers also paid for $2,300 in meals for Commissioner Robert Stuart. That worked out to about $100 a month over two years.

    Commissioner Patty Sheehan enjoyed $1,000 in meals. Both Stuart and Sheehan say the dining involved city business.

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    9 Investigates tax dollar spending by Orlando city commissioners