Stateside, the Brooklyn borough president has been fined $20,000 for improperly expensing his wife's travel while she accompanied him on official visits to Turkey and the Netherlands. Markowitz explains that the problem wasn't an abuse of power; rather, it's the failure of New Yorkers (and the city's ethics panel) to appreciate the stature of his office:
"I'm not a dummy. I understand what a conflict is ... I didn't abuse my position. What they're saying is they don't recognize my role (in promoting the city and Brooklyn) beyond the borders of Brooklyn. They don't believe my wife has any role and they're wrong. You go to Europe, other countries, being borough president [of] Brooklyn is a big thing there."
The last time Mrs. Markowitz was in the news for grabbing a little extra off the top (in 2008, she made off with eight autographed Takashi Murakami souvenir place-mats from a benefit at the Brooklyn Museum), she offered a similarly borough-based excuse: "You guys really should have acted faster. This is Brooklyn!"
Never let it be said that the Markowitzes aren't ambassadors for the Brooklyn brand.