The Allegheny County (Pa.) controller has accused County Executive Richard Fitzgerald of improper use of his county vehicle, potentially totaling $13,125. The controller’s office uncovered the misuse during the course of its ongoing audit of county vehicles.
Controller Chelsea Wagner reported that the county executive used a fleet vehicle for personal purposes, contrary to vehicle use policy. The audit alleges Fitzgerald falsified county records, claimed travel as a county official business purpose, and failed to report 19,556 miles of use.
Examples of misuse include: travel to nearby counties to campaign for candidates, trips within the county for campaigning purposes, and travel to and from the airport to attend the Democratic National Convention. Fitzgerald’s campaign Twitter account indicates dates, times, and locations of his political activities.
The controller's office stated that the misuse is estimated to have cost taxpayers potentially $13,125. The office directed Fitzgerald to stop using the vehicle improperly and to provide accurate documentation so it can calculate the total amount he must repay the county.
Wagner’s audit of county-owned vehicles began on Aug. 28 and covers a period from Jan. 1, 2012 to the present. Wagner cited her specific duties under state law to immediately report misuse of county funds and to immediately seek to recover such funds once misuse is discovered.
Allegheny County has 151 employees with take-home vehicles; however most of those employees are police officers and sheriffs. For all employees with a take-home vehicle, the county covers the cost of the employee’s commute to and from work each day but prohibits employees from using the vehicles for purposes other than commuting or business.
Fitzgerald said the allegations were "political," and that he has done government work during political trips or events, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reported.
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