APRIL 21, 2009
Weeks after a commissioner in an affluent south Florida community pleaded guilty to federal corruption charges, a comptroller’s report reveals that perpetual mismanagement has cost taxpayers more than $5 million in unnecessary charges.
Lawmakers in Palm Beach County, one of the nation’s top rated, have consistently wasted large amounts of public dollars by utilizing a debt management process that lacks oversight, internal controls and transparency to best serve the taxpayers, according to the probe.
The scathing 132-page report also blasts the Board of County Commissioners for not taking action when presented with evidence of significant deficiencies in the debt issuance process, mainly involving bonds. It also suggests nixing a practice under which each commissioner recommends his or her favorite bank to share underwriting for the county.
Authorities launched the investigation after a veteran commissioner got indicted for directing lucrative municipal bond underwriting work to various companies that employed her husband and naming one of the firms as the official county underwriter. The 18-year commissioner, Mary McCarty, also accepted gifts from companies and individuals doing business with the county and voted for numerous bills that financially benefitted her husband.
Last month McCarty became the third Palm Beach County commissioner in only a few months to plead guilty to federal corruption charges. She publicly admitted that she committed inexcusable and criminal acts, the sort that evidently has been widespread within county government for years.
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