ST. LOUIS, Mo. (KMOX) – Documents obtained by KMOX news show the expenditures of former Children Services Fund Director Catherine Tansey include several airline flights, hotel bills and meal expenses that are coming under scrutiny.
The fund has been the subject of an internal audit, after Tansey who was appointed by County Executive Dooley, was replaced last month amid reports of an FBI investigation into financial irregularities involving vendors.
Her county purchasing card summary for 2012 alone totaled over $5,600, and included trips to Dallas, San Antonio, Tampa, Washington D.C, and Kissimmee, Florida. Council members are asking questions about whether those trips were for official business, and if so, whether they received the required prior approval of Tansey’s boss, county Executive Charlie Dooley.
Dooley responded only by saying her expenditures are being looked at now.
Questions are also being asked about the long list of restaurants where Tansey charged meals to the county, including Whole Foods, Grappa’s Grill in St. Charles, Cryanos in Webster, the Pomme Cafe and Wine Bar in Clayton, and a Thai Foods restaurant in Clayton.
Tansey was not available for comment, but her attorney Scott Rosenblum was asked for his reaction to concerns being raised about Tansey’s purchasing card activity.
“We stand by the position that Miss Tansey has done nothing wrong and has conducted herself in a way that was always for the benefit of the county and her organization,” Rosenblum said.
Tansey had been in charge of the fund since it was created in 2008 when voters passed a one-fourth-cent sales tax. In that time, the fund has awarded some $100 million in grants to help needy youth in St. Louis county
Council members tell KMOX the Children’s Services Fund is under FBI investigation looking into financial transactions involving vendors working with the agency.
Councilman Steve Stanger says it’s clear to him Tansey was abusing her purchasing card as he reviewed her transaction history.
“Coldstone Creamery, $112.27, for ice cream,” he said. “And we have to keep in mind that this is a fund where Miss Tansey is in charge of giving money out to those in need.”
He says it’s a pattern of abuse that could be prevalent throughout the Children’s Services Fund staff. He says the County Council Chair has requested an audit of the entire fund.
Rosenblum says of the FBI investigation that there was no wrongdoing and Tansey welcomes the investigation.