KNOXVILLE, TN – Knox County auditor Richard Walls will expand his audit of purchasing card use beyond County Mayor Mike Ragsdale’s inner circle in the wake of misspending uncovered in the mayor’s office, according to the Knoxville News Sentinel. More than 300 cards are used by county employees — 170 under Ragsdale and 163 by other offices including the sheriff, school system, trustee, county clerk, register of deeds, and property assessor.

In recent weeks, information has become public about charges such as a $227.56 lobster lunch (with two to-go boxes) and a $900 cruise charged by Ragsdale’s assistant; $20,000 in questionable charges by another assistant, who repaid more than $3,000 and resigned; and more than $2,200 in work-related charges including alcohol that were repaid by the Finance Director, who also resigned.

The charges prompted Ragsdale to suspend all but 12 of his employees’ 170 cards.

A December audit had recommended that the mayor’s office train employees on the use of the credit cards, something Walls said the office is doing. The audit also recommended monitoring use of the cards.

The review looked at 163 transactions and found the following noncompliance:

  • Twenty-one instances of paying sales tax.
  • Three instances of paying hotel-motel tax.
  • Five instances of missing receipts.
  • One instance of a receipt not containing sufficient detail.
  • Four instances of charges after an employee was terminated.
  • Three instances of personal charges.
  • Four instances of “split purchases,” in which employees broke up large purchases into smaller amounts to avoid hitting a threshold that would require a purchase order, for instance.
  • Two instances in which the cardholder did not respond to auditors.