DEFUNIAK SPRINGS, Fla. (WMBB) — Just a few months after firing a deputy administrator for allegedly mishandling a county-issued credit card, a new audit states that each of the county’s five commissioners also misused their cards and, in some cases, may have broken state law.
The audit was issued by the Walton County Clerk of Court. In Florida, along with overseeing courthouses, the clerk serves as auditor and custodian of county funds.
The report accuses Danny Glidewell, Tony Anderson, Trey Nick, Michael Barker and William McCormick of using purchasing cards for unallowed expenses.
Glidewell, Anderson, Nick, and McCormick allegedly used the cards for meals, snacks, and in at least one case, alcohol, even though the county provides a separate pot of money for food while traveling.
Glidewell, Anderson, Nick, and McCormick also used the card to pay for better seats on flights, even though Walton County rules state that commissioners can only fly coach, the audit states. It adds that the commissioners are required to reimburse the county for the difference. According to the audit Glidewell owes the taxpayers about $1,368 for travel. Anderson owes $900. Nick owes $1,760 and McCormick owes $575.
Also, McCormick and Nick used the card for gas purchases and Glidewell paid for airline baggage fees. Glidewell paid $361 for a hotel room at Renaissance World Golf. A memo said the room was canceled and the charge would be refunded but no refund was ever issued.
A similar situation happened with Commissioner Michael Barker over a $208 hotel charge. That money was also never refunded.
The report states that Nick spent $880 in January and $1,151 in March of 2019 for a conference, but some of the charges don’t correspond with the conference dates. Glidewell spent $1,369 in December of 2019 for a conference and billed the county for a hotel stay one night prior to the start of the event.
The report states that in 2020 Trey Nick spent about $2,300 more on a room for himself and his aide than the other conference attendees spent at the same conference.
The report also takes issue with all of the commissioners for using the card without providing the proper receipts.
Glidewell, Anderson, and Nick are accused of letting other people use their purchase cards, a violation of county policy.
The report concludes that the commissioners violated the county’s rules and quote “in certain instances, Florida Statute.”
News 13 reached out to the Clerk’s office Tuesday but they declined to comment, saying that the report speaks for itself.
After News 13 reached out to county officials for comment, the county released a statement on the matter, saying that the county was in the midst of its own investigation when the clerk’s report was released. That investigation began in March after Deputy Administrator Dede Hinote was fired by the commission for allegedly misusing her county-issued credit card.
“During that process, staff became aware of the Clerk’s audit, as well as the Clerk’s intent to adopt a new P-Card policy. During a meeting with the Clerk of Court, staff concurred with many of the Clerk’s recommended changes and advised of numerous revisions to be recommended to the Board for adoption that go beyond what the Clerk has proposed,” they wrote in part. “Now that county staff has received and reviewed a copy of the audit and the new policy, the Board will be presented and shall consider revisions to the relevant policies at upcoming Board meetings.”
The statement does not address when the county commissioners will refund the taxpayers for the misspent money. Nor does it explain why this report was released after qualifying for the November elections ended. No one qualified to run against Glidewell during the June 13-17 qualifying period and he was automatically reelected to the board.
News 13 also reached out to State Attorney Ginger Bowden-Madden about the report but we have not yet received a response.
The full statement from Walton County is below:
WALTON COUNTY, FL – JULY 5, 2022 – Last week, the Board of County Commissioners became aware of an audit completed by the Clerk of Court and released to the general public on July 1, 2022. That audit covers purchasing cards (“P-Cards”), travel vouchers, and use of county vehicles, and focused solely on each of the five County Commissioners. The Board has previously directed staff to investigate similar issues, notably P-Cards and travel policies. Staff has been conducting review of existing policies and practices for those issues related to all County employees and County Commissioners and has been developing policy revisions to address identified issues, many of which overlap with those identified by the Clerk.
During that process, staff became aware of the Clerk’s audit, as well as the Clerk’s intent to adopt a new P-Card policy. During a meeting with the Clerk of Court, staff concurred with many of the Clerk’s recommended changes and advised of numerous revisions to be recommended to the Board for adoption that go beyond what the Clerk has proposed. Now that county staff has received and reviewed a copy of the audit and the new policy, the Board will be presented and shall consider revisions to the relevant policies at upcoming Board meetings.
The findings of the Clerk’s audit reveal what the Board has previously identified as a systemic breakdown of policies within the prior administration of the County and an improper reliance on practice over written policy by those responsible for administering these programs. Current staff has echoed these concerns and undertaken wholesale revisions to eliminate these issues and prevent any future occurrences. With the combined efforts of all involved, the Board looks forward to more fully addressing these issues and adopting solutions in the coming weeks.