Wednesday, March 09, 2011

BUTLER COUNTY: Did Carpenter Mis-Spend a Million Dollars?

I've been watching this story develop and am finally ready to weigh in on some of the craziness...  Let's start with the allegation:
[T]he clerk of courts and county auditor accused former clerk-of-courts-turned-Commissioner Cindy Carpenter of misspending money from the Title fund for at least a decade.
That means the county's tightly squeezed general fund could be forced to reimburse the title fund up to $1.4 million after several rounds of budget cuts prompted furloughs and layoffs in some departments, officials said.
That sounds pretty serious.  And when you consider that the Auditor of State has been called in, you have to think that there is at least some meat on these bones.  Former prosecutor Dave Yost has experience in rooting out this kind of thing, so I am sure we'll get to the bottom of this eventually.
But the outrageous statement from former Clerk/now Commissioner Carpenter simply must be addressed:She questioned what prompted Reynolds and Swain to issue a press release on Monday, but she wouldn't talk about a possible political motivation.

"It's because Mary doesn't understand the duties of her office and the responsibilities," Carpenter said.Cindy is trying to say something she can't say here.  She wants to say that this is a political witch hunt and that people are out to get her.  But she can't say that because people would think she's crazy.

What's this really about?
Five of the 10 positions in question involve Carpenter employees who Swain fired early this month - Administrator Jerome Cook; Deputy Clerk of Courts Jeff Wyrick, who competed against Swain for the clerk appointment and was Carpenter's pick; Finance Director Stephanie Harris; a secretary, Stacy Carpenter; and Purchasing Agent Diane Bicknell.
Imagine my surprise...  We find out that there are 76 workers in the office and 26 of those were cross-trained to do title work but only 10 (half of whom are the Carpenter Five) got paid from this fund.  And yet this fact emerges:
In 2010, 52 percent of clerk's office salaries came from the title fund and the rest came out of the legal fund.
Maybe that is legit...I'll wait for Yost to determine that...but it sure looks funny.

As for the politics...  Once again, all I can say is that Cindy Carpenter is a protege of Mike Fox...  Butler County's electorate seems to like shady characters in high profile positions because they keep electing that archetype.