Boyer uses county card for $12,000 in personal expenses

Ken Watts | 3/28/2014, 6 a.m.
Elaine Boyer, DeKalb’s longest-serving commissioner, apologized this week for making thousands of dollars in personal purchases using her county VISA ...

Elaine Boyer, DeKalb’s longest-serving commissioner, apologized this week for making thousands of dollars in personal purchases using her county VISA debit card.

Boyer, who has represented District 1 for more than 20 years, called fellow commissioners to offer to apologize.

She also apologized to DeKalb taxpayers on WSB-TV.

“I want to offer an extreme, heartfelt, sincere apology,” she said. “I am not trying to make excuses. I am sorry and it won’t continue.”

Boyer said that she was not aware that she was doing anything wrong when she used the county’s P-Card, which functions like a debit card, drawing money directly from a county account, to pay for things like a family vacation to Colorado.

“It never dawned on me that what I was doing was wrong,” she said.

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution’s investigation showed that between 2011 and 2013, Boyer made 52 personal charges that include meals, rental cars, and airline tickets to a ski resort in 2012 and 2013.

Boyer said that she had repaid two-thirds of it before the newspaper came calling and paid back $4,083 this year.

District 2 Commissioner Jeff Rader said there is no requirement for the county to issue a P-Card to any person.

“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that commitment to use the card appropriately, then at the county like any other organization, the privilege should be withdrawn,” he said after the BOC’s March 25 meeting.

Boyer, 57, was first elected to the BOC in 1992. Her district includes Brookhaven, Dunwoody, Tucker and Smoke Rise, where she lives.

In a written statement to the media Tuesday, Boyer said she has reimbursed more than 90 percent of the charges.

She said that the AJC brought to her attention that she had not reimbursed some of these expenses for 2012 and 2013.

“That was an oversight for which I accept full responsibility and for that I apologize,” she said. “I immediately reimbursed the expenses from that two-year time frame. I want to point out that when I have written these checks to the county, I was never informed that what I was doing was in violation of any county policy.”

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.”

Boyer says she has no recollection of signing such an agreement in 2010.

A 2011 audit found Boyer’s office deficient on receipts but did not mention reimbursements as an issue.

William Perry of the government watchdog group Common Cause said it appears Boyer used the county VISA card as an open line of credit for personal expenses.

“This isn’t something that should be used a slush fund or a line of credit,” he said. “This is taxpayer dollars.”

In her statement, Boyer said the county’s policy needs to be clarified.

“Having realized I am part of the problem, I want to be part of the solution and adopt a strict, enforceable policy that calls for complete transparency and accountability that the entire board can support going forward,” she said.

Boyer said her own personal financial problems, which include bankruptcy and threats of foreclosure, didn’t have anything to do with her use of the county’s credit card.

DeKalb DA spokesman Erik Burton said Wednesday that District Attorney Robert James was aware of the situation.

“We are currently looking into the matter,” Burton said.