A special investigation from the State Auditor found the former Monona County Auditor misused a county credit card. The investigation began after former auditor Brooke Kuhlmann was arrested on July 29, 2013 for possessing methamphetamine and drug paraphernalia.
Deputy State Auditor, Tami Kusian, says Kuhlman routinely did not report to work after her arrest and other employees took over her duties and found some issues and asked for the audit. “We identified over $8,000 of improper credit card charges and late fees associated with that credit card,” Kusian says.
She says Kuhlmann used the card to buy things for herself. “There were a lot of convenience store purchases, retail vendors, there were some purchases at the Winnavegas Casino, Apple i-Tunes, those kinds of things,” Kusian says. Other purchases on the county credit card $100 debit cards from Wal-Mart. There were also late fees totaling near $1,100s.
Kusian says the county had guidelines that were to limit how the card was used. “There were minimal approved usages of it. And in this case it was mainly for gas-type charges, and in fact the county did not use it for meals and those types things — some of those things we did find on the credit,” according to Kusian.
The audit also found that a personal check was sent to the credit card company. “The former county auditor’s family did pay a large portion of the improper items. They did make a payment to the credit card company of over $8,000,” Kusian says. Petitions were submitted to the county board of supervisors for Kuhlman’s removal from office, but were withdrawn after she resigned on December 11th of 2013.
The audit shows Kuhlman entered a written plea of guilty to possession of a controlled substance on December 30th and she was sentenced to two days in jail and fined $315. Kusian says the audit recommends the county ensure the monthly credit card statements are delivered to and reviewed by a staff member who does not have access to a county credit card to prevent future abuse.
Copies of the report have been filed with the Division of Criminal Investigation, the Monona County Attorney’s Office, and the Attorney General’s Office.
Find more details on the audit here: Monona County audit PDF