OAKLAND -- Port chief Omar Benjamin was part of a group whose $4,537 tab at a Texas strip club was paid for by the Port of Oakland, newly released expense records show.
Benjamin's name was redacted from copies of the receipt previously released to the press.
The Port of Oakland released the full version of the expenses records Friday as scrutiny over the spending continued, showing for the first time that Benjamin, the agency's executive director, helped run up the expensive strip club tab passed off as a normal business meeting.
The receipt from a party at the Houston strip club, Treasures, was submitted for reimbursement by James Kwon, the port's maritime director.
His name is second to Benjamin's on the receipt dated Oct. 21, 2008.
To have Kwon submit the receipt instead of Benjamin is a violation of port policy. Benjamin should have submitted the reimbursement request because he is Kwon's boss.
"Where more than one employee participates in a business activity, the individual at the highest level of authority should report the expense," according to the port's administrative manual.
In turn, Benjamin's expenses are supposed to be submitted to "a higher level of authority."
Port officials did not say what sanctions, if any, Kwon and Benjamin would be subject to.
They could be subject to dismissal if the investigation shows they improperly billed the port, according to the agency's administrative
Benjamin and Kwon are on paid leave. Benjamin was paid $257,508 in 2011. Kwon's pay was $214,248.
"I am cooperating with the Port inquiry and will do whatever I can to resolve this matter constructively and in the interests of the Port of Oakland," Benjamin said by email.
The port hired Arnold & Porter LLP to audit port records for other expenditures, including other nightclub visits in Asia and Oakland billed to the port by employees.
After a special meeting Friday, board President Gilda Gonzales said the agency is pleased with the progress being made on the expense report investigation.
"The Board is eagerly looking forward to the conclusion of the investigation, and is confident that more definitive developments will be announced soon," she said in a written statement, which she read aloud during the meeting.
Port policy allows "reasonable and necessary travel, entertainment and other expenditures incurred in the course of conducting the business of the Port." It does not say where they can be entertained or how much executives can spend entertaining them.
However, reimbursement requests should show the amount of the expense, the date and place of the payment, names and titles of others attending, and the business purpose of the expense.
The delegation of BNSF Railway businessmen Kwon was supposed to be entertaining in Houston have said they have no record of being at the club or in Houston at the time, BNSF spokeswoman Lena Kent said. Their names continue to be redacted.
Kenneth Katzoff, Kwon's attorney, said his client returned from Korea, met with lawyers hired by the port for five and a half hours and "fully expects to be cleared of any wrongdoing." Kwon has returned to Korea to be with his ailing mother-in-law.