DC Mayor Bowser Leads Large Delegation To Las Vegas For Retail Conference Amid Criticism Over Taxpayer-Funded Trips

Washington D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser is facing scrutiny once again for embarking on a taxpayer-funded trip this time leading a 15-person delegation to Las Vegas for the International Council of Shopping Centers (ICSC) conference. The trip comes just weeks after Bowser drew criticism for attending the Masters Golf Tournament in Augusta Georgia on the taxpayers’ dime.

According to the mayor’s public calendar, Bowser and her entourage will attend the ICSC conference from Sunday through Tuesday as part of an “economic mission” to attract retail to the District of Columbia. The mayor’s office touted the benefits of attending the conference in a press release stating that conversations started at ICSC have led to the opening of major retailers like Lidl and Wegmans in the city.

Bowser defended the trip saying “We know that Washingtonians in every part of DC want access to fantastic amenities. … Through programs like the Food Access Fund and the Neighborhood Prosperity Fund we have made good progress in filling amenity gaps but there is still more to do to ensure greater accessibility and equity – and filling those gaps and supporting the continued transformation of Downtown will be a focus of this trip.”

The delegation accompanying Bowser includes several city council members, Deputy Mayor for Planning and Economic Development Nina Alber,t Senior Advisor Beverly Perry and other officials from various city departments. The mayor’s office stated that the goals of the trip include expanding D.C.’s brand as a premier business environment generating leads for development projects and promoting unique retail and restaurant opportunities in the city’s neighborhoods.

However, the trip has raised eyebrows coming so soon after Bowser’s controversial taxpayer-funded visit to the Masters Tournament last month. The mayor claimed that trip cost between $5,000 and $6,000 per person for air travel but did not disclose the cost of the tickets to the exclusive golf event.

Bowser defended her travel saying “Listen voters have placed their trust in me to make the best decisions for the District for the last 15 years including three elections as mayor. We made no secret about the fact that we make sports investments. We are the sports capital and we are going to promote the District in every corner of the world and that has been my experience as mayor.”

Critics have accused Bowser of a lack of transparency regarding her taxpayer-funded trips and questioned the necessity of such a large delegation for the Las Vegas conference. As the mayor continues to face scrutiny over her travel expenses, the debate over the appropriate use of public funds for economic development efforts is likely to continue.