DeKalb County Commissioner Elaine Boyer apologized Tuesday for allegedly misusing her county debit card for thousands of dollars of personal expenses, and said she didn’t realize the practice was prohibited.
According to a recent investigation by the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Boyer used her county VISA card for non-work-related expenses that include meals, rental cars, and airline tickets to a ski resort.
Boyer, who reportedly tallied
more than $12,047 in personal charges on her county-issued credit card, says
she didn't realize that was prohibited.
"I want to offer an extreme, heartfelt, sincere apology," Elaine Boyer told WSB TV.
Republican Boyer represents portions of District 1 in north DeKalb, including Brookhaven and Dunwoody, says Georgia Public Radio. She sometimes paid back the VISA charges within weeks or months, but more than $2,600 was still unpaid by the time the newspaper began asking for receipts. In all, the newspaper found 52 personal charges she made with the county credit card.
William Perry of the government watchdog group Common Cause said it appears Boyer used the county VISA card as an open line of credit for personal expenses.
“This isn’t something that should be used a slush fund or a line
of credit. This is taxpayer dollars,” said Perry.
"At this point that's all I can do is say I'm sorry and it won't continue," Boyer told the TV station. "There was never any intent in my mind not to pay it back."
DeKalb County employees who are given purchasing cards must each sign an agreement governing its use. The document states in part, "I agree to use this card for DeKalb County approved purchases only and agree not to charge personal purchases."
Boyer told the TV station she has no recollection of signing such an agreement in 2010. A 2011 audit found Boyer's office deficient on receipts, but did not mention reimbursements as an issue.
On March 13, Boyer repaid an additional $4,083 for purchases made this year, and others the AJC questioned that she said were just sloppy accounting.
“I really don't have an excuse for that and so when it was brought to my attention I paid it back," said Boyer.
She said her own personal financial problems, which include bankruptcy and threats of foreclosure, didn't have anything to do with her use of the county credit card.
"I can just say that I'm extremely sorry and when I made the reimbursement and it was accepted and no one said anything, it never dawned on me that what I was doing was wrong," she said.
Boyer said she has called each of her fellow commissioners to apologize to them as well. But some were critical.
"There is no requirement for the county to issue a p-card to any person and if you are not willing to make the commitment and follow that commitment to use the card appropriately, then at the county like any other organization the privilege should be withdrawn," said Commissioner Jeff Rader following Tuesday's commission meeting.
District Attorney Robert James issued a statement saying he will look into it.