JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Jacksonville’s mayor Lenny Curry has made it clear that he is committed to downtown development.
This week, he visited three cities on a fact-finding mission to learn their success and their errors.
"It was a successful trip," Curry said.
On Monday, Curry took off from Cecil Airport in a private jet belonging to Shad Kahn. Traveling with him were Sam Mousa, his Chief Administrative Officer, and Jaguars President Mark Lamping.
The trip took them to the Power and Light District in Kansas City, an $850 million-dollar retail, dining and entertainment neighborhood. From there, it was the stadium sports complex in St. Louis and the last stop was the riverfront in Baltimore called Inner Harbor.
"We wanted to know their ideas and their failures to move our downtown forward," Curry said. “We can't be a suburb of nowhere."
The mayor was traveling with the same company that was recently selected to develop the shipyard property.
The mayor said he's aware of ethics laws and is in full compliance.
"This is an efficient way to do business," Curry said. "I would have been able to travel to three cities in 36 hours."
“We are looking into it, we review all the trips,” said Carla Miller, Jacksonville's Ethics Director.
Miller said the law allows the mayor to travel on a company's private jet.
"State law does not require that you must fly commercial," Miller said.
Even if it does not violate any law, Miller said it is a gift and someone has to pay for it.
If it is city business, she said, the city pays. If it is political, a PAC fund pays, or it can be an out of pocket expense.
The mayor said that when he gets back, he will provide receipts and documentation.
"It is my job to make sure that the law is complied with on all of those expenses," Miler said.
Miller said her review usually takes a week, but under state ethics laws she has up to 90 days to determine if there was a violation.