Booker Says His Speechmaking Outside Newark Helps City
In interview with New York Times, mayor said he donated nearly all his speaking fees
In an interview with The New York Times, Mayor Cory Booker defended his numerous speaking engagements outside the city, saying they draw outside help to Newark and that he has donated nearly all of his estimated $1 million in fees.
“[I]f you minus out all that I’d given away, it’s not that much money,” Booker told the paper in an interview published Monday.
Booker’s speeches at college commencements, before Democratic Party organizations and other groups from coast to coast came under renewed scrutiny this past summer, when Nj.com reported Booker has spent weeks outside the city since January 2011, fuelling criticism that he was an absentee mayor more concerned with building his brand as a national political figure than the day-to-day problems of governance. Sen. Frank Lautenberg echoed that criticism earlier this year, after Booker announced his interest in running for Lautenberg’s seat in 2014. Lautenberg has since said he would not seek re-election next year.
In the Times interview, Booker said his speaking engagements and appearances were just another way of serving the city, saying he did them “so I can drive money in every way possible toward nonprofit endeavors.” Booker went on to cite several examples, including donating his entire fee from one engagement to Integrity House, a Newark drug rehabilitation center.
To date, Booker has not fully disclosed the record of his earnings but will be required to do so if he officially becomes a candidate for Senate, the paper also reported. Booker said he will release a full accounting in the next month.