From February 9 through the 13th, Monday through Friday, San Diego mayor Kevin Faulconer was on the road to New York and Washington DC, appearing on a gaggle of cable TV news shows, interviewing with mainstream news outlets, and putting in an appearance with London mayor Boris Johnson at the Brookings Institute big-money think tank.
Records released by the city in response to a request made under the state's public records act show that the former public relations executive, widely presumed to have his eyes on higher office, did it up big in the city that never sleeps, charging taxpayers $1248 for lodging, $1530 for air travel, and $267 worth of taxis and shuttles, for a grand total of $3045.48.
Benefits to be derived by the city, according to the travel documents, were promotion of "San Diego's Innovation Economy and Business Development."
The mayor was booked into the Grand Hyatt New York at Grand Central Terminal at $249 a night on Monday and Tuesday, bringing the total there to $578.44, including tax. A deluxe king room for Faulconer at the Capital Hilton set the city back $279 a night, plus tax, for a total of $669.84, the documents show.
Mayoral media aide Charles Chamberlayne also went along on the junket; he stayed at the Grand Hyatt, running up a total travel tab of $1443.12, the records say.
In addition, Faulconer's PR retinue included deputy chief operating officer David Graham and police detectives Ross Weaver and Ana Rodriguez. Graham and Weaver did both the Grand Hyatt and Capital Hilton; Rodriguez stayed only at the Hilton, according to a February 18 email. Expense documentation for the trio was not provided by the city.
Appointments for the mayor included stops at Fortune and the New York Times, as well as Bloomberg News, CNN, and CNBC. Faulconer also managed to squeeze in a Thursday meeting with Housing and Urban Development secretary Julian Castro before heading off for his session with London mayor Johnson and a 6:30 evening reception at the British embassy, the itinerary says.
At most media stops, the San Diego mayor was fed softball questions and responded in kind with wordy platitudes about the city’s weather and sunny business climate.
Then he hit CNBC’s Squawk Box, where co-anchor Andrew Ross Sorkin, the well-known author and financial columnist for the New York Times, appeared to push the GOP mayor beyond his comfort zone when asking his position on mandatory vaccination laws, a controversial topic among many Republican voters.
Faulconer: When you look at that the spread to other states and others, it's a real issue and I think it really, you know, underlines the absolute need for vaccinations and I think most folks understand that and realize that and it's…
Sorkin: Okay, what about this proposal to eliminate the personal beliefs exemption?
Faulconer: Well, I think everybody should be, get, have vaccinations. I mean, [laughs] I’m the father of two young kids, I think it’s critically important, and I think that…
Sorkin: Should there be an exemption?
Faulconer: For? For?
Sorkin: If you have a personal belief should you be allowed to have an exemption; should you be able to say I don’t want my kid vaccinated? Should that be allowed?
Faulconer: I think it’s critically important that every kid get vaccinated, we saw…
Sorkin: [Interrupting] Okay, but what should the law be? I understand what you think, but what should the law be?
Faulconer: I think they should get vaccinated, absolutely. I think it’s incredibly important…
Sorkin: [Interrupting] And the law should be you have to?
Faulconer: I think it’s incredibly important you do that, and that should be the case, yes. Absolutely.