DOVER - Delaware State Treasurer Chip Flowers called for an overhaul of the state-issued credit card system used by public employees in a 21-page report released Friday regarding misuse by former Deputy State Treasurer Erika J. Benner.
charged $2,341.58 in non-business-related expenses on a state credit card between Oct. 6, 2011 and Feb. 25, 2013, and resigned her
position on Sept. 4, 2013.
later re-paid what was owed, but the treasurer questioned how the system overlooked regular personal charges during a 16-month period.
A call from Secretary of Finance Tom Cook and Division of Accounting Director Kristopher Knight on April 10 first notified Flowers of irregularities on Ms. Benner's card, which was identified as fraudulent activity by her husband, officials and reports stated.
During that call, Treasurer Flowers
said the other personal charges by Ms. Benner
were never mentioned, which included tickets and car service to a New England Patriots game and other expenses later deemed as personal costs.
asked the DOA to "cease and desist what appeared to be questionable and illegal conduct by your agency" related to a probe into all credit card use by treasury employees.
"Only in recent months has Treasurer Flowers
disclosed that there were many more questionable charges made by Deputy
office had previously disclosed.
The report recommended 12 actions be taken after the issues, including revoking Ms. Benner's
credit card privileges and reducing treasury credit cards from 15 to 4.
The report notes that Benner
reimbursed the state for all improper charges during the period.
The report also chronicles communications, primarily through email and telephone conversations, between officials in the state Division of Accounting
, which administers the state's credit card program, and employees of the state Treasury concerning charges made on Benner's state credit card.
The report notes that the misuse of the state credit card was disclosed to Flowers in June 2013, after which Flowers created a special investigative team that worked with multiple state agencies, including the Office of Management & Budget
and the Attorney General's Office to create the report.
To protect taxpayer funds, in addition to the $2,341.58, Flowers
pay thousands in additional charges until the Treasury
could determine if such charges were legitimate business expenses (the report found such charges were in fact legitimate business expenses and most (if not all) of this amount will be returned to Benner).
In addition, the report found that neither the Division of Accounting nor the Treasury's credit card coordinator warned Benner
should cease using her
state credit card for personal reasons.