Mayor under fire for possibly violating ethics code

City of Tacoma Mayor Marilyn Strickland

Earlier in the month, City of Tacoma Mayor, Marilyn Strickland, returned from a 10-day trip to Seoul, Shanghai, and Fuzhou on official business. She accepted Ron Chow’s frequent flyer miles for the trip, a decision that she is currently getting flak for. Chow is the cofounder and president of Seattle Pacific Trading and Retail Restaurant Development.

Strickland told the News Tribune she was trying to save the city, which is in the midst of a budget crisis, with an additional expense.

The City of Tacoma’s ethics code prohibits the “acceptance of compensation, gifts, favors, rewards, or gratuity. … No city official may, directly or indirectly, give or receive, or agree to give or receive, any compensation, gift, favor, reward, or gratuity for a matter connected with or related to the city official’s services with the City of Tacoma.”

Strickland told the News Tribune that she didn’t see ethics problem. “I didn’t get any personal
The cost of the airfare of Strickland’s trip is estimated to be in the thousands.

“For the past year or so, I had offers and opportunities to go to Asia on city business, but never took advantage of that because the city’s budget situation hasn’t been good,” she told the News Tribune. “So, I tried to find a way to get over there and avoid having those expenses costing the city anything.”

Strickland has said she plans to pay Chow back for the airfare.

Chow told Seattle Chinese Post that the airfare was not a gift or compensation. Rather, it was a ceremonial trip and Mayor Strickland was an invited guest who was sponsored.

Chow also stated that, due to that trip, he successfully brought back an investment project to Tacoma worth $25 million.

The city’s board of ethics will meet March 24 to review the complaint, which was filed by local man John Hathaway. ♦

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