Human Resource Agency Squanders Taxpayer Funds On Entertainment, Travel And Subsidies, Report Finds

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Taxpayer money has been used to cover $2 million for travel expenses, meals and entertainment, mobile communications devices and subsidies for a training complex and resort property used by the Upper Cumberland Human Resource Agency, an investigation by the Comptroller’s Division of Investigations has revealed.

Among other issues, investigators found that agency officials spent nearly $60,000 on an annual trip to Washington, D.C., more than $1.6 million to subsidize its training complex and resort property, $123,000 for gift certificates for training events, more than $100,000 annually on 160 mobile communication devices for employees, and thousands of dollars for extravagant meals and entertainment.

The Upper Cumberland Human Resource Agency serves 14 counties in the Cumberland Plateau region with a 63-member board comprised of various county and city mayors and derives the vast majority of its funding from state and federal governments.

The Comptroller’s investigative report, which was released Tuesday, details how agency officials made tens of thousands of dollars in disbursements for non-public purposes in 2011 alone.

Investigators found numerous receipts from a March 2011 trip to Washington, D.C., apparently for 30 agency officials, employees and guests to meet with their members of Congress. On several occasions during the trip, officials charged more than $3,000 per meal for lavish dinners including alcohol.  On a single meal at Washington’s Oceanaire Seafood Room, 34 agency guests consumed nearly $5,000 in food, including over 30 alcoholic beverages.  The costs of such extravagant meals were typically split between two agency credit cards, ostensibly to conceal the high costs.

During the same Washington trip, the agency spent $1,255 for officials, employees and guests to attend a performance at Ford’s Theatre, $289 for a visit to Madame Tussauds wax museum and $284 for a trip to Mount Vernon.

In addition to expensive annual trips to Washington, agency officials made frequent trips to Nashville each year, charging expensive meals and alcoholic beverages on agency credit cards for purposes of entertaining agency board members and legislators.  In February 2010, for example, the agency spent $2,361 for 25 guests at Morton’s Steakhouse, dividing the dinner check among three agency credit cards.  In August 2010, seven guests were treated to $85 in pre-dinner cocktails before an $807 dinner at Morton’s at the agency’s expense.  In October 2010, the agency spent nearly $10,000 to have its annual meeting in October 2010 catered and more than $8,500 for a staff holiday party in December 2010

The human resource agency provided its training and resort property, Lakeside Resort and Educational Training Complex, at least $1,696,928 in subsidies since 1995, according to the Comptroller’s report.  Even though there appeared to be no effort to recover this financial support, the agency recorded this receivable as an asset on the financial records, yet wrote off the entire debt in 2010 as uncollectable.

“Whether money comes from federal, state or local government, it is all public money that should be spent for proper public purposes,” Comptroller Justin P. Wilson said. “When taxpayers see their money being spent for the purposes outlined in this audit, it erodes their faith in government. I encourage leaders of the Upper Cumberland Human Resource Agency to take steps to ensure these types of expenses don’t occur in the future.”   

The Comptroller’s office continues its review of the Upper Cumberland Development District and a separate report will be issued on that matter at a later date. 

To view the report online, go to: http://www.comptroller.tn.gov/ia/.


Latest Hamilton County Jail Booking Report - And Mug Shots

Here is the latest jail booking report from Hamilton County: AKRIDGE, JERTERRIUS MARSHAWN 6317 TALLEDEGA AVENUE CHATTANOOGA, 37421 20 Chattanooga THEFT OF PROPERTY EVADING ARREST RESISTING ARREST OR OBSTRUCTION OF LEGAL PROCESS RECKLESS ENDANGERMENT POSSESSION OF CONTROLLED SUBSTANCE ANTONIO, MICAELA 2001 E. 28TH ST. CHATTANOOGA, 37407 31 Hamilton ... (click for more)

Fort Oglethorpe Arrest Report For Nov. 14-20

Here is the Fort Oglethorpe arrest report for Nov. 14-20: Eric Brandon Carden, 22, of 192 Madgabend Road, Rossville was arrested November 13 on charges of driving while license suspended and operation of unregistered vehicle.   Michael James Dodd, 42, of 94 Cross Street, Fort Oglethorpe was arrested November 14 on a charge of shoplifting.   James ... (click for more)

Don't Allow Us To Be Overrun By People Who Do Not Belong Here - And Response (6)

Thank you, Senator Corker, for your clear, concise evaluation of the president's attempt to bypass Congress and personally and independently establish national policy that violates our current immigration laws.   Our long-standing failure to enforce our laws to control illegal immigration across our southern border has made this country less safe and ... (click for more)

Roy Exum: ‘Pretty’ Seeking ‘Rich’

The story has been around for a while, long enough for the fact-checking Snopes.com to classify it as a “legend,” which means “great story but lacks validity,” so as we hope Tennessee’s football team can somehow beat 19 th -ranked Missouri in a rough-and-tumble game at Neyland Stadium tonight, allow me to share this because it is delightful just the same. The following is what ... (click for more)

Mocs Win Big Over Furman, Undefeated In Conference Play

The University of Tennessee at Chattanooga football team put a cherry on top of its 2014 regular season with Saturday’s 45-19 win at Furman (3-9, 2-5 SoCon).  The victory gives the No. 9 Mocs (9-3, 7-0 SoCon) its first ever undefeated Southern Conference slate and its first nine-win season since 1979. Junior quarterback Jacob Huesman led the way with 257 passing yards ... (click for more)

Mocs Volleyball Team Falls In SoCon Semifinals

The Chattanooga Mocs volleyball team saw its postseason come to an end despite a strong showing against Samford, falling 3-2 in the first round of the Southern Conference Championships in Greensboro, N.C. “Despite the score, I couldn’t be more proud of our team,” Head Coach Travis Filar said.  “They played hard all season and finished the season strong.  The leadership ... (click for more)