FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Camden County GA Republican Party, Inc.
1 October, 2020
Where Did $8.5M Go Before May 2018 - When it Was Discovered Funds Missing at the Camden PSA?
The Official Code of Georgia (“OCGA”) Section 36-81-7 requires that local governments shall provide for, and cause to be made, an annual audit of the financial affairs and activities for each fiscal year. Annual audits are required according to the local law that created the Camden County Public Services Authority (“PSA”). Prior to 2018, the previous audit of the Camden County PSA occurred in 2003.
A PSA Board meeting was held September 30, to accommodate an in-person review by the Macon based auditor (Clifton, Milford, Harrison & Parker) who has examined the misuse of Camden PSA monies prior to 2018. The short version is that the report revealed that $8.5M in taxpayer monies issued to the PSA is unaccounted for and/or missing.
This reporting is limited to anecdotal reports of the meeting. Citizens are encouraged to “be on the look out” for reporting from local media that clarifies the audit report and corrects any inaccuracies that may be listed here. From notes taken in the meeting, the following, among other issues, was reported:
- · $1.7M possibly still owed in IRS debt
- · $200K in undocumented credit card expenses
- · SPLOST monies issued by the Camden County government to the PSA for projects that were never developed, were not tracked or were not overseen by the issuing county finance department to ensure their compliance or completion
- · Numerous unaccounted expenses in the form of checks written for “cash” was exchanged between the then PSA director and the assistant director
In June of 2018, the Camden County Republican Party actively sought the draft of a bipartisan resolution to examine this abuse, issuing an initial request for action and grand jury investigation. Although presented to the local democrat party, who declined to participate, the clearly nonpartisan issue was carried for all the taxpayers of Camden County by the Camden GOP who released three ongoing resolutions to demand justice. District Attorney, Jackie Johnson responded the first resolution allowing the grand jury to examine the abuse. The grand jury recommended change legislation to the local legislative team: Rep Steven Sainz (180), HR James Corbett (174) and Senator William Ligon who responded introducing HB681 in the 2019 legislative session requesting reorganization of the PSA board, increased citizen board member representation and mandatory audit requirements.
Link to HB681: http://www.legis.ga.gov/legislation/en-us/display/20192020/hb/681
Following approval of HB681 by the voters, the PSA board reorganized in January 2020, from the former chartering arrangement of the three mayors and two county commissioners to three elected or staff representatives from the three cities and three citizen resident representatives. St Marys Council continued to allow St Marys to be represented by Mayor John Morrissey who had served on the previous board. Additionally, the reorganization allowed for one county commissioner and two citizen representatives from the county. Appointment of Commissioner, Lannie Brant was followed by the commissioners selecting the citizen representative post from among their own, Commissioner Ben Casey, to fill the seat thus failing to fulfill the intent of HB681.
The Camden County GOP has been impressed with the new management of the PSA and recognize positive changes are being made. The GOP is confident in the leadership of PSA Director Joey Caison and respects the newly formed board sought an in-person audit review to examine past abuses. The GOP also appreciates the diligence and determination of Detective Chuck Byerly of the Camden County Sheriff’s office who surpassed the efforts of the weak GBI investigation and sought answers, transparency and accountability. While charges are pending to arrested parties, the case was turned over to the Waycross Judicial Circuit where court business is currently limited due to COVID19 restrictions.
This communication is NOT considered an official report but encourages interested parties to be ACTIVE citizens in seeking continued resolution and correction with respect to any activities involving the expenditures of taxpayer dollars and delivery of services to Camden County and our citizens. Please follow up on local news accounts, VOTE for the most qualified candidates, and contact board, council and commission members and other related elected officials for accurate data and documentation.
Media contact: Carla Davis firstname.lastname@example.org