D.C. councilman reimbursed for trip to celebrity memorial service

Graham reportedly requested reimbursement for nearly $1,500 in expenses. (AP Photo/Kevin Wolf, File)

WASHINGTON – A local politician is facing questions on why he had taxpayers foot the bill for his trip to a celebrity memorial service.

The Washington City Paper reports that along with celebrities like Elton John and Colin Farrell, D.C. Councilmember Jim Graham attended a 2011 memorial service for Elizabeth Taylor in California.

Graham, who represents Ward 1 on the council, knew Taylor from his days as head of the Whitman-Walker Clinic in D.C. and said he attended in his position as a councilmember. His reimbursement request for nearly $1,500 in expenses for airfare, a hotel and a rental car was approved by city officials, the City Paper reports.

Graham said he received a personal invite to the service, but did not answer questions about why taxpayers should pay for the trip.

His statement reads:

I received a personal invitation from the Elizabeth Taylor Foundation to attend her Memorial Service. I requested approval of the expense from the Council and from the CFO.

Their approvals were received in advanced of the trip. I was outside Washington for a total of 2 days, returning the day after the Memorial Service.

Graham previously has faced scrutiny related to his ethics. An independent review found he violated the Metro system’s ethical standards when he was a member of its board.

WTOP’s Mark Segraves contributed to this report. Follow @SegravesWTOP and @WTOP on Twitter.

(Copyright 2012 by WTOP. All Rights Reserved.)

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