Landrith repays Oklahoma County for report errors

By Fawn Porter/Staff Writer

A special audit into possible travel expense discrepancies for former Oklahoma County management information system director and Mustang Mayor Jeff Landrith shows overpayment by the county to Landrith of about $675.

In response, Landrith said he recently wrote a check for about $1,000 — an amount he said will more than cover any issues related to the travel expenses.

The special audit addressed two concerns broached by Oklahoma County officials: a trip Landrith took to New York City in May for a conference and MIS department inventory.

Regarding Landrith’s trip, the audit found “the MIS director spent time in New York before and after the conference date and some of the expenses from that period and air fare that had been paid through Rainbow Travel Service was erroneously reported on his expense report submitted for reimbursement June 30, 2006.”

Landrith attended the conference from May 10 to May 13. He resigned as Oklahoma County MIS director in November, which he said was not related to the questioning of his expense report.

Landrith has said the inclusion of his wife’s air fare on his expense report was an administrative error and nothing more and was “inadvertently” placed on the travel expense report.

Even so, Landrith has said he should have caught the mistake.

“If I had been told about it a month later, a week later, I would have fixed it,” Landrith said in December, adding there were other administrative errors on the report. “And I want to stress no matter how that error occurred, I am responsible.”

Landrith said as director of the MIS department, he took any and all responsibility for whatever appeared on the expense report.

He has said his wife was not in New York during any portion of the scheduled conference, and provided the Mustang News with her travel documents showing his wife’s return date was May 8.

And while Landrith said he took an annual leave day for May 8, the audit findings show he also should have taken an annual leave day for May 15.

Landrith, however, said he was working on May 15 — making telephone calls and sending e-mails related to his work and the upcoming fiscal year’s budget.

He added some findings in the audit were “extremely incorrect,” including charges of handwritten receipts and days claimed.

“If you look at the report, you will see them mention that I could only claim 24 hours before and after the event. County employee manual does not state this, nor was it ever passed to my staff,” Landrith wrote on his Web site, “In addition, the report talks about hand written receipts — not true — every single receipt is computer generated. Finally the report speaks of Internet tolls, which could not be verified. I don’t know how else to verify Internet usage other than a receipt from the Internet provider. I also had tried to contact the (Oklahoma) County Clerk directly over a dozen times via e-mail and phone but never received a reply.”

The auditor’s recommendations included all air fare and hotel arrangements follow Oklahoma County purchasing policies and not be made by individuals on their personal credit cards. The audit report also recommended MIS personnel closely review reimbursement documentation before submitting it to the board of county commissioners, and receipts should contain enough detailed information so approving officers will know the expense was incurred on county-related business.

“The Board of (Oklahoma) County Commissioners should consider implementing a policy stating a specific time frame in which travel reimbursements can be submitted for repayment and expand existing travel policy to be more specific to items such as when per diem starts and stops, Internet usage and detailed original receipts must accompany the travel reimbursement requests,” the audit report suggests.

“They are the lowest of the low,” Landrith said of Oklahoma County officials. “To go out of their way over something like that … it’s stupid; it’s politics.”

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