Mayor Richard Bailey: SANDAG Board should vote to replace Hasan Ikhrata

SAN DIEGO (KUSI) – A scathing report revealed a recent audit of SANDAG, flagged many credit card purchases as “unallowable,” and a review of the many charges show it was a common practice for SANDAG’s leaders to use taxpayer dollars to fund their lavish meals.

inewsource’s Investigative Reporter Jennifer Bowman published an article titled, “Taxpayer footed the bill for SANDAG staff to enjoy filet mignon, other upscale dining,” which began by blasting SANDAG’s leadership for pulling “out their employee credit cards hundreds of times to pay for meals, often at upscale dining spots and with bills topping out at more than $100 per visit.”

SANDAG’s unelected Executive Director, Hasan Ikhrata, makes $580,000 per year, and gets ten weeks of paid vacation, along with a car stipend. But believe it or not, the audit found that he is guilty of abusing the taxpayer funded credit card on fancy filet mignon dinners.

The inewsource report found Ikhrata “charged $17,000 in meals over roughly two years and mostly at businesses in the county.”

KUSI reached out to Ikhrata for comment, but he declined.

Coronado Mayor Richard Bailey, a SANDAG Board Member, is outraged at the abusive spending by Ikhrata and others at the highest levels of leadership in SANDAG.

Bailey explained this will bring down the public trust with the organization that is in charge of our region’s county, and that he hopes to be able to vote to replace Ikhrata as Executive Director for his wrongdoing.

Bailey acknowledged that the Board does not have the votes at the moment, but is hoping after the 2022 elections, the new Board will come together and hold Ikhrata accountable.

Mayor Bailey spoke with KUSI’s Lauren Phinney on Good Morning San Diego about the situation, and revealed some of the specific credit card charges that the taxpayers footed the bill for, which may surprise you.

Bailey pointed out that Ikhrata charged $315 on a “dinner meeting with Lorena Gonzalez-Fletcher & Nathan Fletcher” at Donovan’s Steakhouse.

There is also a $825 charge for a “Mexico delegation dinner” at a swanky restaurant in the Polanco area of Mexico City called Rosa Negra.

RELATED STORY: SANDAG leaders caught using taxpayer money to fund filet mignon dinners

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