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Kenney accuses county employees of falsifying expense reports

May 22, 2014
OSSIPEE — Carroll County Commissioner Asha Kenney made a claim May 14 that she has evidence that county employees falsified mileage expense sheets. Kenney did not have any documents in hand to prove that allegation, leaving this reporter and the vice-chairman of the delegation waiting. As of press time no proof had been received.

During the May 14 county commissioner's meeting, the board was discussing adopting a policy to cut back on the expense when employees travel out of state via Boston's Logan Airport. The discussion was prompted by an expense report that was submitted by an employee for payment. It included mileage to and from the airport as well as the parking garage fees for the employee to leave their vehicle while away. Under the new policy, when employees are flying out of Logan, the county will pick up the tab for mileage back and forth from the bus station in Dover. That lot allows travelers to park their personal vehicles for free. The county will also pick up the cost of bus fare to and from Dover and Boston.

Commissioner David Babson said on one expense report it would have saved the county about $200 if this new policy had been in place. If for some reason, taking the bus is not a viable option; the commissioners will make exceptions on a case-by-case basis. All three commissioners voted to adopt the new policy.

It was during the discussion that Kenney made a claim about employees falsifying expense reports. "Going to meetings, conferences, if we have a group of people, four or five are going and one person drives why do we have to reimburse all five people? Because I see that a couple times…they are going in one car, they are going in one van and when they come back to the county I see that everyone put in for mileage. Why don't we have something in that if you're going with four or five people in a car that the driver just gets reimbursement for mileage?…I know it's happening," said Kenney. When Commissioner David Sorensen asked Kenney if she had proof of this, she said, "I think I told you a few years ago."

Under state law, NH RSA 24:17, the county delegation comprised of the 15 state representatives that represent Carroll County, has the authority to "investigate conditions pertaining to the conduct of county affairs…" This reporter spoke at the county delegation meeting May 19 to ask the delegation to form a committee to look into Kenney's claim that employees have overcharged the county for mileage expenses. The main county responsibility the delegation is charged with, by state law, is oversight of the county budget.

Delegation chair Karen Umberger (R-Conway) seemed reluctant to get involved without the request moving through the proper channels first, suggesting this reporter talk to the county finance manager and go through expense reports to try and prove Kenney's allegation.

Babson spoke at the delegation meeting to say this type of "double-billing" has never happened on his watch as he thoroughly checks and questions invoices submitted to the county business office for payment.

Kenney did not provide proof of her claims at the delegation meeting either, opting instead to go on for nearly two-minutes attacking this reporter. "Everything she writes is inaccurate – every article – everything she writes, and the taxpayers see through it. I get numerous phone calls and we see what little games she's playing," said Kenney, who also said this reporter is on a witch-hunt, and past right-to-know requests from this reporter were bogus.

Initially, delegation vice-chairman Mark McConkey (R-Freedom) said there is a process that should be followed, suggesting this reporter file a right-to-know request asking for proof of Kenney's claims. If that proof failed to materialize within the time period allowed by law (five business days), he said he would like to be notified.

Following Kenney's rant, however, McConkey said, "The commissioner has made a statement that multiple people are travelling for an event and have billed the county for that. I do agree that shines a bad light on our employees." He then asked Kenney to provide the delegation with proof of her claims.

May 20 this reporter filed a written request for the proof but as of press time had not received a response.

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