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.
The other shoe dropped Tuesday at the State Ethics Commission, as the agency’s lone remaining full-time attorney resigned. Tom Plank, a lawyer there since 2007 and the agency’s top administrator earlier this year, quit to take another job. Colleagues said Plank dropped off his resignation letter and left without saying what that job would be.
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.”