Booker in Newark last month (Mel Evans/AP)With a high-profile Twitter account and a penchant for generating publicity, Newark, N.J., Mayor Cory Booker may be the best known local official in the country. And along with that profile has apparently come sizable speaking fees.
Per The New York Times, Booker has earned about $1 million in outside speaking fees during his seven years as mayor. His office has declined to say exactly how much money or where that money came from—and he hasn't been required to disclose that information under city law.
In coming weeks, however, the public will get its first glimpse of exactly how much Booker made when the mayor files a personal financial disclosure form with the U.S. Senate as part of his bid to replace retiring Sen. Frank Lautenberg.
Booker, who earns $135,000 a year as mayor, told the Times that he’s earned more money through speaking engagements than from his job at City Hall. But he insisted he’s given most of that money away.
“Even though I am entitled to keep it, after Uncle Sam takes his share and after I’ve given away hundreds and hundreds of thousands, I’ve kept very little of it, if any,” Booker told the Times. He added, “if you minus out all that I’ve given away, it’s not that much money."
It's the latest round of bad publicity for the Democratic mayor, who announced in December that he would bypass what had been a widely expected challenge to New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie in the state's gubernatorial race this November in order to explore a bid for Senate. That irked Lautenberg, who had not yet announced whether he would seek a sixth term in the Senate. He publicly criticized Booker for jumping into the race without talking to him first.
Even after he announced plans to retire last month, Lautenberg has continued to criticize Booker, most recently encouraging the ambitious mayor to "finish" his job in Newark before concentrating too much on his Senate bid.
In an interview with the Wall Street Journal published Tuesday, Booker defended his decision to announce his Senate bid before Lautenberg had formally exited the race, insisting the story has been "twisted in the wrong way."
"We reached out. We asked for meetings. We had a meeting set up," Booker said. "Unfortunately, that connection was never made."