Report Cites $15K in Credit Card Misuse by Former Clinton County Convention Bureau Official
Columbus – The former executive director of the Clinton County Convention and Visitors Bureau used the bureau’s credit card to pay for $15,107 in personal expenses, including haircuts, manicures, shoes, handbags, hotel and cable bills, and gasoline and pharmacy purchases.
The finding underlined the danger that government agencies face when they fail to adopt credit card policies to curb abuse. These dangers were highlighted in a July special report by Auditor of State Dave Yost titled “Credit-Card Dangers: Local Governments at Risk of Theft.”
“Since 2011, my office has identified more than 35 cases in which credit cards were misused, totaling more than $1.2 million in improper spending of taxpayer’s money,” Yost said. “In most of these cases, the lack of fundamental credit-card policies made the abuse possible. Every local government should adopt basic credit-card safeguards.”
The findings at the Clinton County Convention and Visitors Bureau were part of an examination that covered financial transactions in 2014 and 2015.
The $15,107 finding for recovery was issued against former Executive Director Debbie Stamper. Another finding for recovery of $683 was issued against her for credit card expenditures that lacked documentation to prove they were for a legitimate public purpose.
Stamper repaid some of the money before her death in December 2016 and her estate paid the remainder.
Examiners noted that the bureau lacked fundamental credit card safeguards and oversight.
These safeguards are detailed in the July special report and also in Auditor of State’s December “Best Practices” newsletter available here.
Among other things, the newsletter recommends restricting the number of people with access to credit cards, requiring detailed receipts for credit-card transactions, setting spending limits, and a list of proper and improper credit card uses.
House Bill 312, introduced in July by State Rep. Kirk Schuring (Canton) and Rep. Dave Greenspan (Westlake) with the support of Auditor Yost, would require local governments to establish credit card policies to protect tax dollars.
The bill would:
- Require all government entities to enact a credit card policy detailing allowable uses, number of cards, who can use them, credit limits and reissue periods.
- Require for some governmental entities that accounts and policies be reviewed regularly by an appointed compliance officer other than the treasurer of the government entity.
- Ban the use of debit cards, except for certain law-enforcement purposes.
- Authorize the Auditor of State to create rules for the disclosure and audit of credit-card rewards accrued by local governments.
The full report on the Clinton County Convention and Visitors Bureau can be found here.
The Auditor of State’s office, one of five independently elected statewide offices in Ohio, is responsible for auditing more than 5,900 state and local government agencies. Under the direction of Auditor Dave Yost, the office also provides financial services to local governments, investigates and prevents fraud in public agencies and promotes transparency in government.