Miami Beach officials' Art Basel trips called 'junket'

With the June 15 opening of Art Basel just days away, a delegation of Miami Beach officials is preparing for a trip to the Swiss city and sister festival to the Beach’s art extravaganza. Also packing their bags: the city manager’s wife and a commissioner’s husband.

Miami Beach taxpayers are picking up the tab — at least $86,500 since 2005, including roughly $17,300 to pay for the plane tickets of spouses, girlfriends and guests.

The city says the annual trips solidify relationships with their Swiss counterparts and are a key reason behind a decade of Art Basel Miami Beach, arguably the city’s premier event. To ethics investigators, however, using city funds to pay for friends and family — and failing to disclose their travel as a gift — skirts the line.

“To the citizen out there, your wife getting to go to Basel, Switzerland, for a week is a junket,” Michael Murawski, a Miami-Dade ethics commission advocate, told City Manager Jorge Gonzalez last month.

Gonzalez and other officials say the trips are key to cultivating and expanding on their business relationship with Art Basel organizers, whose three-year Miami Beach agreement ends after its December show. They stress their spouses play an integral role while in Switzerland.

Read : ” Miami Beach officials’ Art Basel trips called  ‘junket’ ” an article by The Miami Herald

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