Councilman Henry returns money for meals

A Baltimore City Council member says he has repaid $6,500 in reimbursements for meals over the past 2 1/2 years because he incorrectly submitted receipts for the meals.

Councilman Bill Henry, who represents northern Baltimore, came under scrutiny after Fox 45 aired a report that he had submitted thousands of dollars of receipts for meals with constituents since he was elected to the council in 2007.

Henry used funds from a $5,000 annual discretionary account to pay for the meals, ranging from $15 to $100 at restaurants such as Cafe Zen and Brewer's Art. Several other council members rent city-owned cars with funds from the account.

Henry said he decided to return the money because he realized he should have provided more detail about whom he was meeting and why.

"Technically it's my responsibility, so I'm literally paying for it," said Henry, adding that the council president's office — both under Bernard C. "Jack" Young and during Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake's tenure as council president — had approved the charges when he originally submitted them.

Henry said that he expenses meals with constituents rather than accept a free meal to avoid the appearance of a conflict of interest. He said he plans to continue paying for meals from the fund, but to submit itemized receipts naming his dining companions and the topics of conversation.

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