Investigation of Resort-held Conferences 07 Nov 13

The state’s legislative auditor has agreed to review the spending practices of state-sponsored agencies and organizations at conferences after a Litchfield resident, in confidence, approached local legislators with concerns.

The local citizen contacted Sen. Scott Newman, R-Hutchinson, and Rep. Dean Urdahl, R-Acton Township, to express uneasiness over taxpayer dollars being used to house official meetings and conferences at “extravagant, privately owned venues instead of utilizing state-owned facilities that were built expressly for this purpose.” Newman and Urdahl sent a letter to auditor James Nobles, relaying the message and requesting a closer look at the issue. Nobles responded to Newman and Urdahl via email, indicating he would conduct a review.

“The person who approached us about this matter shared personal experiences that may raise some eyebrows,” Urdahl said. “They attended a three-day conference at Breezy Point Resort, which involved six hours of meetings and two rounds of golf. When our constituent questioned the practice of spending taxpayer dollars to pay for sending around 100 employees and their spouses to a vacation resort, the head of the organization reportedly said, ‘They deserve a break, too.’”

The letter from Newman and Urdahl requests an investigation from Nobles to see that “every penny of tax-payer money is accounted for and to ensure that state agencies, and organizations receiving state assistance, are held accountable for uses of public funds.”

“It is our responsibility to be good stewards of the taxpayers’ money,” Newman said. “We sent the letter to Mr. Nobles to help us learn more about procedures for state-sponsored conferences and look forward to receiving his response.”