Hamilton County commissioner filed more than $27K in questionable expenses

Published 2:46 pm Wednesday, July 10, 2024

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By Jon Styf

The Center Square

A Hamilton County Commissioner received more than $27,000 in questionable reimbursements for a satellite office and other expenses, according to a new investigation from the Tennessee Comptroller’s office.

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The report did not name the commissioner because charges were not filed, but it detailed $15,500 in rent reimbursement for the commissioner’s office space along with nearly $6,000 in reimbursement for meetings at local restaurants.

The office space did not have active electric service, the report said, and the comptrollers’ office visited the space and said that investigators “observed indications that the office was not being used.”

Commissioner Warren Mackey, however, told the commission in May that Hamilton County Finance Director Lee Brouner had met with the comptroller’s office and Brouner was asked questions about Mackey’s satellite office expenses for a space on Highway 58, according to the Chattanooga Times Free Press.

Mackey told the commission he began renting the space 12 years ago, the Times Free Press reported.

The expense reimbursements included more than $1,000 for two red leather office chairs, nearly $1,400 for cellphone accessories, nearly $1,350 for the purchase of 48 storage totes that the comptrollers’ office couldn’t locate, more than $1,000 for post office box renewal and more than $1,100 in lodging expenses that exceeded allowable amounts, the report said.

“County commissioner expenses should be appropriately scrutinized before reimbursements are made,” Comptroller Jason Mumpower said. “All expenses should be in furtherance of the county commissioner’s duties and not wasteful or abusive of taxpayer funds.”

The investigation was sent to the Tennessee District Attorneys General Conference after the 11th Judicial District Attorney General recused himself.