Ravenstahl defends travel expense record, says he won't chose new chief



PITTSBURGH - Pittsburgh Mayor Luke Ravenstahl may have forced Nate Harper to resign as the city's police chief, but he said he'll let his successor pick Harper's replacement.

Ravenstahl announced March 1 that he won't run for re-election. In February, he announced Harper's forced resignation in the wake of an FBI investigation into how the city handles money it collects as a fee for when its officers are hired for off-duty security details at bars and other businesses.

On Monday, Ravenstahl said he's begun the process to search for a new chief but said it "wouldn't be fair" to his successor to choose a new chief before he leaves office at year's end.

Regina McDonald, an assistant chief, has been named acting chief until Harper's replacement is hired.

Target 11 Investigator Rick Earle asked Ravenstahl about his travel expense record.

“I haven’t abused tax dollars to travel at all,” Ravenstahl said.

The mayor also offered an explanation as to why there may not be charges for hotels and restaurants on his city-issued credit card.

“The fact that those organizations paid for it, in my mind, is part of the reason I went,” Ravenstahl said.

Questions about Ravenstahl’s travel and who paid for it surfaced after the FBI launched an investigation into a secret police account. The mayor’s former body guard said he was ordered to use the account to pay for certain excursions to cover the mayor’s tracks.

Ravenstahl denied any wrongdoing and said Monday that his public safety director Mike Huss has talked with investigators.

The feds are also focusing on the police special events department that schedules secondary employment for officers at bars and construction sites.