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Documents Show Questionable Contributions, Conflicts of Interest in Children’s Services Fund

Allison Blood, KMOX News
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File photo of money.

File photo of money.

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ST. LOUIS, Mo. (KMOX) - KMOX has obtained documents showing that a possible FBI investigation of a county agency was about more than just one check.

Former Children’s Services Fund Director Catherine Tansey is defending herself in the media saying any investigation revolves around a check that a consultant wrote to her, which she then returned.

But reports of an investigation sparked an internal audit of Tansey and the Fund, and found much more than that.

Documents from the audit show questionable donations and contributions to the fund from consultants and contractors, and months of unauthorized travel receipts. One email shows Tansey asking for invoices from clients, but requesting the dates be kept blank, so she could fill them in later.

Though Tansey was put in charge of the fund by County Executive Charlie Dooley, he refuses to talk to us about her, or when things went wrong.

“Kate Tansey does no longer work for St. Louis County, and it’s a personnel matter,” is all Dooley would say.

Several of the contracts in question have Dooley’s signature at the bottom, and many of the travel expenses, that are supposed to be pre approved, have no signature at all.

But Tansey isn’t the only one questioned in the audit. Another top official, Deputy Director Julie Russell comes up a few times. A receipt shows Russell checked into the Drury Hotel in October 2-7 2011, costing $689.35, paid for with money from the Children’s Services Fund. The travel request stated the trip was to “conduct a site visit of a Missouri Quality Award applicant.” But the receipt from the Drury is for “Julie Russell, Excellence in Missouri Foundation.” That’s the same foundation whose director, Rina Knox, vowed it had no contact with in the Post Dispatch on Monday. Receipts for hundreds of dollars in Chinese takeout are signed with the same name, on a county credit card during the time of the stay at the Drury. Also, the request was approved after the trip took place, on October 12. County statute states all travel requests need to be approved before the trip.

In April of 2012, emails also show that same official being offered positions teaching part-time with Washington University, another client of the Children’s Services Fund. State law, RSMo Section 105.452, states this could be an illegal conflict of interest:

“No elected or appointed official or employee of the state or any political subdivision thereof shall:
(1) Act or reform from acting in any capacity in which he is lawfully empowered to act as such an official or employee by reason of any payment, offer to pay, promise to pay or receipt of anything or actual pecuniary value paid or payable, or received or receivable to himself or any third person, including any gift or campaign contribution, made or received in relationship to or as a condition of the performance of an official act, other than compensation to be paid by the state or political subdivision…”

Other, smaller issues with the fund show managers spending nearly $2,000 on logo pullovers for staff members, logo monogrammed toys, pens and magnets. There are also several receipts from Whole Foods Markets, each for 30 dollars in organic coffee and organic half-and-half.

KMOX has reached out to the Childrens Service Fund, but hasn’t gotten a response.

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