Saturday, November 09, 2013

Virginia Beach | HamptonRoads: Mayors' trip on private jet with local developer raises questions


VIRGINIA BEACH -- Two Hampton Roads' mayors are under the microscope after hopping on a private jet with a wealthy developer to attend Terry McAuliffe's election party Tuesday night. 

 Virginia Beach Mayor Will Sessoms and Norfolk Mayor Paul Fraim flew to Washington, D.C. with developer Bruce Thompson on a small private jet, the two mayors confirm.

Thompson is the developer behind the Cavalier re-development project at the Virginia Beach Oceanfront and the planned hotel and convention center in Downtown Norfolk.

Thompson received millions of dollars in public funds and tax assistance from both cities for the respective projects.

Both Sessoms and Fraim said they split the cost of the flight with Thompson.

"I'm concerned about appearances all the time," Fraim said. "I've been doing this for a while. The fact that we paid for our trip to go there, I thought was appropriate."

Sessoms also said he didn't see anything wrong with the trip, and pointed out that he abstained from the vote to approve $18 million in funds for Thompson's project at the Cavalier.

Fraim said he thinks the criticism is worth the good relationship with Thompson.

"There will be people who question our relationship with any developer," Fraim said. "Mr Thompson is going to invest nearly $70 million in this city, you know, the mayor should be friends with him."

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