Booker, who plans to run for the U.S. Senate seat now held by Frank Lautenberg, D-N.J., reported on financial disclosure forms he was paid a total of $1,327,190 for 96 speeches, The New York Times reported. He said taxes came to $476,156 on the money and he gave $619,253 away.
On average, his speaking fees in four and one-half years exceeded his mayoral salary of $174,476. Booker gave eight paid speeches in 2008 and 24 in 2011, his peak year.
Booker, a child of the black middle class who was raised in the suburbs and went to Oxford as a Rhodes Scholar, was already a national figure before he was first elected mayor in 2006. His unsuccessful challenge in 2002 to longtime Mayor Sharpe James was the subject of a documentary, "Street Fight."
A spokesman, Kevin Griffis, defended the mayor's speechmaking in a statement.
"They have helped the mayor connect to philanthropists and developers and attracted talented people to the city," he said. "Further, his talks have helped to increase and improve the city's profile, and allowed the mayor to make significant contributions to Newark nonprofits and organizations hit especially hard during this difficult economic time."
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