SANDAG leaders caught using taxpayer money to fund filet mignon dinners

SAN DIEGO (KUSI) – 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.”

Bowman reports SANDAG staff dined at fancy restaurants commonly, such as Rei Do Gado, Donovan’s Steakhouse and the U.S. Grant Hotel restaurant.

The revelations come as SANDAG recently approved their more than $160 billion transportation plan, which was passed, with the inclusion of a mileage tax allegedly pending.

SANDAG’s Executive Director, Hasan Ikhrata, makes $580,000 a year of taxpayer money, with ten weeks of paid vacation per year, is confirmed as one of the SANDAG employees who commonly used taxpayer dollars to fund extravagant dining.

iNewsource reports Ikhrata “charged $17,000 in meals over roughly two years and mostly at businesses in the county.”

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

Ikhrata has led SANDAG since 2018. KUSI reached out to him for comment, but his office said they “respectfully decline.”

inewsource‘s complete report can be read here.

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