Commissioner apologizes for using county card for personal charges

by: Jodie Fleischer Updated:

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DEKALB COUNTY, Ga. - A DeKalb County commissioner accused of ringing up more than $12,047 in personal charges on her county-issued purchasing card told Channel 2 Action News she didn't realize that was prohibited. 
 
"I want to offer an extreme, heartfelt, sincere apology," said Elaine Boyer.
 
Boyer is under fire after our news partners at the Atlanta Journal Constitution spent months investigating her expenses, and uncovered the 52 personal charges. She had already repaid two-thirds of the money prior to their investigation.
 
"At this point that's all I can do is say I'm sorry and it won't continue," Boyer said. "There was never any intent in my mind not to pay it back."
 
Boyer said that's why she was willing to answer questions about the spending patterns. She granted her only television interview to investigative reporter Jodie Fleischer.
 
"I am not trying to make excuses, I'm trying to hit this head-on," Boyer said.
  
DeKalb County employees who are given purchasing cards must each sign an agreement governing its use. The document states in part, "I agree to use this card for DeKalb County approved purchases only and agree not to charge personal purchases.'"
 
"You signed an agreement stating that you knew what the rules were and that the rules don't allow this?" Fleischer asked.
 
"And I understand that. And that was in 2010 and I do not have any recollection whatsoever in signing that," Boyer said.
 
A 2011 audit found Boyer's office deficient on receipts, but did not mention reimbursements as an issue.
 
On March 13, Boyer repaid an additional $4,083 for purchases made this year, and others the AJC questioned that she said were just sloppy accounting.
 
"When you look at the receipts at the end of the month, they got missed. I really don't have an excuse for that and so when it was brought to my attention I paid it back," said Boyer.
 
She said her own personal financial troubles, which include bankruptcy and threats of foreclosure, didn't have anything to do with this.
 
"I can just say that I'm extremely sorry and when I made the reimbursement and it was accepted and no one said anything, it never dawned on me that what I was doing was wrong," she said.
 
Boyer said she has called each of her fellow commissioners to apologize to them as well. But some were critical.   
 
"There is no requirement for the county to issue a p-card to any person and if you are not willing to make the commitment and follow that commitment to use the card appropriately, then at the county like any other organization the privilege should be withdrawn," said Commissioner Jeff Rader following Tuesday's commission meeting.
 
District Attorney Robert James issued a statement saying he was made aware of the situation and will look into it.
 
Despite having repaid all of the money, Boyer's improper use of the card may be considered criminal.
 
Boyer says she's willing to sit down talk with James about her records. She's hoping he and the public will look at her past record.
 
"I'm hoping that by my apologies and my omissions, and the things that I've created with this situation, it doesn't define me and my 20-plus years of serving on the board," said Boyer. "Everybody makes mistakes, I'm owning up to my mistake. And I would like to think that I would be thought about as my whole and not one incident."



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