Since D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser signed on as co-chair of Mike Bloomberg's campaign for president, she has been traveling around the country for him, raising questions about the impact on her work in the District.
Bowser has become one of the top surrogates for Bloomberg, appearing on network TV and in other national press to promote his campaign.
“We’re proud of what she’s doing, but there ought be be an opportunity for all of us to know where she is and what effect it may have on us as taxpayers or the process of governing,” said political consultant Tom Lindenfeld, who has worked on local and national campaigns, including for former D.C. mayors Tony Williams and Adrian Fenty.
Over the past few weeks, Bowser has taken at least five out-of-town campaign trips her mayoral staff does not tell the public or the press about.
First Read — DMV
A place for insight, analysis and exclusives on the people who shape politics in the District, Maryland and Virginia.
Since endorsing Bloomberg Jan. 30, Bowser has traveled to Hampton Roads, Virginia; Houston; Wayne County, Michigan; Greensboro, North Carolina; and Charleston, South Carolina, where she was Tuesday.
“Nobody is going to besmirch her the opportunity to be able to endorse a candidate, to be able to campaign for somebody of her choice, to be able participate in the presidential election,” said Lindenfeld, who also campaigned for Bowser in the past. “The only thing we want is to be able to have an openness and transparency that parallels the reason why she ran in the first place."
He pointed out that Bowser is not the first D.C. mayor to come under scrutiny for travel. Fenty took campaign trips for President Barack Obama and also supported Bloomberg when they were both mayors.
Williams was criticized for his world travels as mayor.
“Mostly because he wasn’t as open about where he was going and what he was doing, not because he was actually traveling, which I think is the same in this case,” Lindenfeld said.
A spokesperson for the Bloomberg campaign said Bowser’s travel expenses are paid for by the campaign but would not say who pays for any staff or security who travel with her.