A state worker took advantage of lax oversight to refill his gas tank 40 times with the state’s money before anyone noticed, Georgia’s inspector general has found. The employee, a lieutenant at the Savannah Regional Youth Detention Center, used employee identification numbers (EINs) assigned to others when he used a state-issued fuel card to buy gas for himself, IG Elizabeth Archer said in a report issued Monday.
Headlines trumpeted state Inspector General Elizabeth Archer‘s latest findings a few weeks back: “State’s ethics lawyers blasted for outside work.” “State attorneys ran private firm on public time.” “Moonlighting Ethics Commission lawyers violated state policies.” But look closer at Archer’s investigative files, as I did, and you’ll find fairly flimsy evidence behind some of her conclusions. Some “findings” are artfully worded to suggest impropriety without explicitly saying so. Not only that, there’s no sign that her office informed one of the attorneys of a key issue or asked for an explanation.
Two attorneys for the State Ethics Commission improperly used public resources to operate their private law practice, Inspector General Elizabeth Archer has found. Attorneys Yasha Heidari, who resigned in April, and Tom Plank used state-issued computers to research clients’ cases and abused sick leave, she said, and they created a potential conflict by representing a business operated by a man who offers his services as a lobbyist, a profession regulated by the ethics commission. UPDATE: The Ethics Commission said today it will implement the inspector general’s recommended remedies immediately and will “take appropriate action” after reviewing the findings regarding Plank.
Earl Mahfuz, the Georgia DOT’s top numbers guy until state investigators found evidence of financial shenanigans, has retired effective today. Mahfuz has been at the center of an accounting controversy in which DOT employed practices described by Gov. Sonny Perdue as “Enron accounting.”
A 27-year employee at the Georgia Department of Defense used state time and resources to run a side business that grossed nearly $400,000 in less than nine months, Inspector General Elizabeth Archer said today. Until he was fired in January, Thomas Quarterman earned about $55,000 a year working for the Georgia Army Guard.