Audit: Tax dollars fund pricey shuttle for official's 3-block ride

Updated:

At least 105 of the trips made with the vehicle were used to shuttle the agency's chairman, Richard Lidinsky, a short distance from his office to a nearby train station.

WASHINGTON - A federal audit obtained by Channel 2 Action News reveals the head of a federal government agency used tax money to lease a pricy SUV and a driver to avoid a three-block walk in Washington, D.C.

The Federal Maritime Commission spent more than $1,600 a month for a 2011 Chevy Tahoe, fully loaded with leather seats and GPS.

The agency also spent up to $75 an hour for a staff member to drive the vehicle in the nation's capital.

According to paperwork reviewed Channel 2's Scott MacFarlane, at least 105 of the trips made with the vehicle were used to shuttle the agency's chairman, Richard Lidinsky, a short distance from his office to a nearby train station.

Walking between the two points could take less than 10 minutes.

The Federal Maritime Commission's Inspector General investigated the procurement and usage of the SUV after receiving complaints from agency employees.

Even the parking spot for the vehicle cost a bundle: $4,700 a year.

The internal probe found the agency trampled government rules. Government cars are required to be fuel-efficient.

The Chevy Tahoe gets 15 miles per gallon, according to the audit. What's more, agency employees failed to properly log the trips made in the SUV.

Federal Maritime Commission employees removed Channel 2 Action News' cameras from a recent public meeting, after MacFarlane made requests for comment. The U.S. House Committee on Oversight has also requested further information about the lease.

The Federal Maritime Commission oversees shipping regulations and other maritime rule making.

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