The Washington Times owes the State Department more than $15,000 in long-overdue travel expenses, The Cable has learned.
The overdue bills are related to travel by Nicholas Kralev, the struggling paper's recently departed State Department correspondent, who traveled with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to Israel, Japan, Korea, Egypt, Belgium, Turkey, China and Afghanistan on four separate trips dating from May 2008 to November 2009. The total outstanding debt is $15,927.32, according to State Department records obtained by The Cable.
Reached by The Cable, Kralev said he had submitted each bill up the chain of command in a timely fashion but had no luck in getting Times management to pay them. The State Department has been emailing and calling Kralev and the Times management demanding the bills be paid as recently as last week.
The Times management itself turned over in November 2009, when executive editor John Solomon was replaced with current editor, former U.S. News and World Report contributor Sam Dealey. Kralev said that after the switchover, all expenses-related questions were being handled by Dealey's chief assistant, Christine Reed, and that Reed was copied on several of the invoices from State. Reed told Kralev that the Times was having cash-flow problems and that the company simply couldn't pay the bills, he said.
"I'm guessing the new management doesn't have the money to pay the bills or doesn't want to pay the bills. State has every right to request those bills be paid," said Kralev.
A State Department official told The Cable that State sees a huge irony to the unpaid bills, given that the Times has been publishing a series of articles criticizing Deputy Secretary of State Jack Lew for his actions regarding disclosure of a $1 million bonus he received from his former employer Citigroup shortly before joining the administration.
One article was devoted to a typographical error Lew made on an ethics form regarding his departure date from Citigroup.
"Maybe before getting sanctimonious about the finances of a public servant of the very highest caliber, they should pay their own substantial debt to the American taxpayer," a State Department official said of the Times.
Dealey, reached by The Cable, declined to comment on why the bills have not been paid but he denied that there was a direct connection to the paper's negative coverage of Lew.
"I'm the editor, not the accountant, and our story on Jack Lew's million-dollar taxpayer-funded bonus from Citibank speaks for itself," he said.
The financial problems at the Times have been well reported. Following the firing of top executives last November, the paper let go about 40 percent of the editorial staff over the succeeding two months.
When publisher Jonathan Slevin left in April, he sent out a blistering letter criticizing Dealey for leaking information to the press and accusing Nicholas Chiaia, one of two board members, of large-scale mismanagement related to the Times and its financial operations specifically.
The Unification Church, a well-heeled religious movement led by self-proclaimed Messiah Rev. Sun Myung Moon, which owns the Times, has slashed the financial subsidies that had been keeping the paper afloat and in May, Chiaia admitted that the paper is up for sale.
Reed and Solomon both declined to comment and attempts to reach the Times accounting staff were unsuccessful.
John Hudson reports on national security and foreign policy from the Pentagon to Foggy Bottom, the White House to Embassy Row, for The Cable.