Port of Oakland Chief Suspended Amid Strip Club Scandal

Several SEIU workers packed the meeting to voice their outrage at the strip club and hair cut spending.

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    NEWSLETTERS

    Port of Oakland commissioners listened for a short time, then left the meeting. Cheryl Hurd reports.


    Port of Oakland commissioners voted Thursday to place executive director Omar Benjamin on paid leave amid a growing investigation into a $4,500 strip club outing picked up by the agency.
    The commissioners appointed the port's aviation chief Deborah Ale Flint to immediately take over for Benjamin, who was hired in 2007. The port also announced it hired Arnold & Porter to assist with the probe.
    The port's announcement made no mention of maritime director James Kwon. Kwon was reimbursed $4,500 for an outing at Treasures, a Houston strip club, while entertaining about a dozen shipping industry executives in 2008. A receipt submitted said the gathering was held at D. Houston Inc., the name of the strip club's parent company, and that it was a dinner for 12.
    Kwon has been on a business trip to China and has not commented on the burgeoning scandal first reported Monday.

    Other news outlets first reported that Kwan billed the port for $476 in haircuts, $1,000 in wine, and bills from massage parlors, golf outings and a $350 pair of Ecco golf shoes.
    "We continue to take this situation very seriously," Board President Gilda Gonzales said in a prepared statement. "Holding those responsible, accountable is our highest priority."

    Several SEIU workers packed the meeting to voice their outrage at the strip club and hair cut spending.

    NBC Bay Area's Cheryl Hurd contributed to this report.