Wayne County sheriff defends lavish spending of campaign funds

Unusual expenses found on sheriff's finance reports

The Wayne County sheriff is defending lavish spending on campaign funds.

DETROIT – A new report is calling into question the campaign expenses of Wayne County Sheriff Benny Napoleon -- thousands on nice hotels, Lions tickets, steak dinners and more.

Napoleon spoke with Local 4 Wednesday to explain some of the more unusual expenses.

Michigan Campaign Finance Director said he’s never seen campaign funds spent like this.

With 45 years in law enforcement, Napoleon is also an attorney. He said he is traveling and speaking regarding criminal justice reform, and that led to nearly $5,000 in campaign cash being spent hosting sheriffs at a dinner in DC.

“There would have been several people there, a lot of people,” Napoleon said.

He said he never lets anyone buy him dinner or golf, but dinners and golf are work related. But what about the $1,500 spent at Bed Bath & Beyond? $27,000 for Lions tickets?

“I give those to people who support my efforts to keep my office,” Napoleon said. “I’ve never once sat in those seats.”

He said money spent at a Chicago strip club was by a staffer who was there for dinner and a meeting.

“It is incredible to me that people complain if I take for free, but complain when I pay for it,” Napoleon said. “I do not understand it.”

It’s the law that campaign funds can pay for job-related sending, not personal items or services.

About the Authors:

Local 4 Defender Shawn Ley is an Emmy award-winning journalist who has been with Local 4 News for more than a decade.

Dane is a producer and media enthusiast. He previously worked freelance video production and writing jobs in Michigan, Georgia and Massachusetts. Dane graduated from the Specs Howard School of Media Arts.