One Georgia mayor’s alleged malfeasance and other acts of misspent taxpayer money

WRITER’S NOTE: The following is a monthly compilation of alleged or documented stories about waste, fraud, or abuse of taxpayer money or taxpayer-funded resources throughout Georgia. Material was gathered using government documents, the Georgia Public Policy Foundation’s original reporting, and/or previously published news articles.

Hardie, but Not Forthright: Former Augusta Mayor Hardie Davis Jr. left office last year amidst ethics concerns and ongoing investigations. The unflattering attention also unsettled Georgia Tech officials so much they suspended his professorship.

As the Augusta-based WRDW reported, Davis left office on December 31. He allegedly misused thousands of private dollars in campaign funds and didn’t file campaign contribution disclosure reports on time. Davis also allegedly assigned city staff members with tasks related to his 2018 reelection campaign. 

Augusta Commissioner Brandon Garrett said Tuesday that Davis also exceeded the limits each month for his city-issued credit cards and did not provide all credit card receipts and invoices.

Garrett did not elaborate, but he said “it was very odd behavior going on there.”

When asked whether Davis spent those city-issued credit cards on city business, Garrett would only say “he never got his way around to answering.”

The Augusta Press reported this month that Davis spent money “on elaborate trips, consultant fees and pricey dinners.”

“I think that as far as the council goes, there were some policy loopholes that we weren’t aware of until the situation happened,” Garrett said.

“So, we put some policies in place to help prevent [this behavior] and have better accountability for future credit card usages.”

One Inconsistency After Another: Auditors this month reported problems with how Clayton County officials spend taxpayer money.

As reported by the Clayton News Daily, certain inconsistencies have emerged in county officials’ travel expenses and training payments.  

David Roberts, a partner with the Atlanta-based Mauldin & Jenkins firm of CPAs, updated county commissioners about its ongoing audit. Roberts said “common themes found so far are inconsistent documentation and inconsistent prior approvals.”

Auditors are also reviewing the amount spent as compared to the General Services Administration per diem rates on lodging and meals.

“The audit is broken into two segments. The first is looking at the spending of commissioners, chief financial officer, chief operating officer, staff attorney and 25 department heads. Transactions signed off by the CFO, COO and Board of Commissioners Chair Jeff Turner between Jan. 1, 2017 and July 31, 2022 will also be studied,” the paper reported.

“Roberts said a detailed report pertaining to the first portion of the audit will be submitted to the county by mid-February. He said it will dive into all categories considered as well as recommendations. The second part, which will look at all remaining county employees, will begin in mid-February following the completion of part one.”

‘Not Cost Beneficial?’: Georgia State Auditor Greg Griffin reported this month that Burke County Public School District (BCPS) officials mishandled funds from the federal Child Nutrition Cluster and the Child and Adult Care Food Program (CACFP).

For testing, state auditors randomly sampled employees who handled CACFP money. 

“Upon performing this testing, it was noted that the School District did not maintain documentation that accurately reflected the work performed on each program, such as a personnel activity report or timesheets, for 10 of the 11 employees tested,” according to the audit.

CACFP, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA’s) website, reimburses outside-school-hours care centers for money they spend on nutritious meals and snacks for eligible children.

“Though likely questioned costs may exist, these amounts are unknown as time records were not maintained to separately identify work performed for activities associated with the Child Nutrition Cluster and the Child and Adult Care Food Program,” the audit said.

“In discussing these deficiencies with management, they stated that due to the increased volume of the Child and Adult Care Food Program it was not cost beneficial for them to document actual services performed.” 

The Babylon Bee’s Seth Dillon will be the keynote speaker for our upcoming Georgia Freedom Dinner on April 25. You don’t want to miss this! Get your tickets now.

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