(UPDATE) Investigator: DeKalb County is ‘Rotten to the core’
An investigator hired to dig deeper into corruption in DeKalb County didn’t have to dig too far before uncovering the first inklings of a breathtaking array of misconduct within county government.
Mike Bowers, a former state attorney general, has released his summary report, as first reported by WABE.
Some of the highlights …
– P-card transactions “range from the petty to the absurd”
– Some department heads ignored requests to provide information and violated the state Open Records Act.
– The report says, “We started this investigation with the assumption that government employees and elected officials work hard every day to look after and tend to the business of the county. Within the first week we found some who did just the opposite.”
– Taxpayer money funded a trip to the Bahamas for an employee, flower arrangements, a “live” guitar player, a Christmas tree and dry-cleaning a judge’s robe. Taxpayer funds were also used to buy liquor, catered meals, candy, popcorn and pretzels filled with peanut butter for elected officials, department heads and staff members.
– Internal auditors have noted these problems before, but the misspending of taxpayer money has continued.
– Several county departments have regularly overspent their budgets with no consequences.
– The county awarded sole-source contracts, even though there were other qualified bidders available.
– A high-level official wrecked a county-owned vehicle and failed to follow procedures for reporting the accident.
– Taxpayers footed the bill for an impound fee after a county employee was arrested for a DUI. The man resigned, but was later rehired.
– Taxpayers have also paid traffic tickets and toll road penalties.
– “The take-home vehicle policy is routinely violated, with some folks getting a free ride to and from work each day.” The investigator also could not determine how many employees receive county-owned vehicles.
– There have been cover-ups of thefts of county property. One of the thieves is still on the county payroll.
– The investigator uncovered “what appears to be a bribery scheme involving a major county department.”
DeKalb CEO Lee May issued a statement in response to Bowers’ allegations.
I wholeheartedly disagree with the opinion that DeKalb County is rotten to the core. The overwhelming majority of DeKalb County employees are honest, decent, hard-working, and committed to public service.
We were aware of the underlying issues mentioned in Mr. Bowers’ letter. That is why we hired him to conduct a comprehensive review of county government operations to identify corruption, fraud, criminal activity, conflicts of interest, or abuse; with a report in 120 days.
The 120 days has come and gone, and it appears the only thing we have to show for it is a 2-page letter full of salacious – but vague – innuendo.
I was informed by Mr. Bowers today that a detailed report will be issued in 3 weeks that will provide me with a road map to reduce our risk exposure to waste, fraud and abuse.”
Interim CEO, DeKalb County Government
Here is Bowers’ letter to CEO May.