The Arkansas Martin Luther King Jr. Commission could not properly verify $485 in credit card purchases over the past two years, said a new Legislative Audit report released today. The report covered the period up to June 30, 2007. Deputy Legislative Auditor Ronald Burch said he also looked into records up to March of this year, when Dushun Scarbrough became the commission's new executive director, and found no additional discrepancies. Charges that Legislative Audit found to be of dubious business purpose included purchases of meals, software, storage boxes and a hotel stay in West Memphis.
This is a fairly mild finding that should cause the MLK Commission -- and some who have left the commission over the past two years -- to breath a sigh of relief. Current Executive Director Scarbrough gave the commission's testimony at a Legislative Joint Auditing Committee meeting, but to the side of the room sat Sen. Tracy Steele and Jerelyn Duncan, both of whom ran the commission at some point during the investigation's focus period. Odd that they would not be called to testify. Burch said it's standard practice to have only current commission heads come before the Audit Committee.
More coverage of King Commission bickering here.
Scarbrough said he was satisfied with the results of the audit. He said he had not heard anything from the State Police about an ongoing theft from the MLK Commission's headquarters.
In an Insider item this week, we mentioned that there were three charges to Steele's commission credit card made after he resigned as executive director. After the hearing today, Steele said he didn't use the card after his resignation and that the charges were made by someone else. The charges were not listed among those the Division of Legislative Audit considered questionable.
I will add that there appear to be issues the audit did not address. During testimony, Scarbrough said that bills continue to come in to the commission that he hadn't expected. He's paying them from a $6,000 supplemental budget request he made in March. But what happened to the budgeted money that was supposed to pay these bills? The commission got a $60,000 influx of cash in December 2007. Why did that not suffice?
More from the annals of waste and inefficiency: An audit of the Arkansas State Board of Massage Therapy showed that $16,948 of disbursements and $6,426 of travel expenditures had not been properly documented over a two-year period. The massage board spent $8,068 for cell phone use over the same time frame.