Audit: Orleans Clerk of Court's Office misspent money on parties - FOX 8 WVUE New Orleans News, Weather, Sports, Social

Audit: Orleans Clerk of Court's Office misspent money on parties, meals, gifts

Clerk of Criminal Court Arthur Morrell (FOX 8 FILE) Clerk of Criminal Court Arthur Morrell (FOX 8 FILE)
NEW ORLEANS (WVUE) -

Orleans Clerk of Court Arthur Morrell is responding to a scathing report issued by the Louisiana legislative auditor.

It says for several years the clerk's office didn't follow proper procedures in seeking reimbursements for election expenses as well as improper use of office credit cards for personal purchases, which may violate state law.

The audit also says the clerk of court's office used almost $80,000 for celebratory functions, meals and gifts.

The audit says from 2010 through March of 2015, the clerk of court's office requested reimbursements from the secretary of state for employees for elections at rates up to $15.27 higher than regular hourly rates.

"This is not an allegation where any of the money was wrongfully used and converted to anybody's personal use. We were able to verify the money was actually paid to the employees actually doing the work," said legislative auditor Roger Harris.

The auditors also say the clerk did not get prior approval to hire temporary election workers or other election expenses.

And that from January 2012 to January 2015, Morrell and his staffers improperly used the office's credit cards, lacking the proper documentation to prove they were for public purposes.

"What we found in a number of these cases we can't verify was or was not used properly," Harris said.

Morrell issued the following statement:

"This clerk's office has followed the same Election Day payroll policies that all my former clerks used.  Not until 2014 did the Secretary of State inform me that we needed pre-approval of the pay scale for Election Day workers and we have complied with that request.  

"The pay scale we use today is the same pay scale that existed before I took office over ten years ago.

"Concerning the lack of receipts for expenditures, the Clerk of Criminal Court is only required to retain three years of receipts. 

"The state auditor requested receipts as far back as ten years and my office did its best to comply with his request. Regardless, the Clerk's office was able to recover and provide receipts for over 98% of the expenditures in question for the aforementioned ten-year period."

Morrell says the office has been audited yearly since 2006. He says he will incorporate recommendations from the legislative auditor into his office policies and that he will continue to operate with full transparency and accountability.

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