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Where do Augusta leaders stand on forensic audit of spending?

Published: Jul. 21, 2021 at 7:14 PM EDT
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AUGUSTA, Ga. (WRDW/WAGT) - We’re following up with Augusta’s city leaders after a third request failed for a forensic audit into all city departments. Some commissioners have pushed for the full forensic audit from the start while others were never on board.

We reached out to all 10 commissioners. We asked them if right now they’d be in favor of an additional forensic audit into the mayor’s office or any other department in the city.

Commissioners John Clarke, Catherine Smith McKnight and Brandon Garrett said yes, they were also the same three to vote in favor of a forensic audit Tuesday.

Dennis Williams, Bobby Williams, Ben Hasan and Francine Scott said no because there’s been no indication of wrongdoing. We did not hear back from the rest but they all voted down the forensic audit request from yesterday, although previously Commissioner Sean Frantom did request an audit into all city credit card spending which also failed.

Despite every audit request on the table failing thus far those who do want one say the fight isn’t over.

“It doesn’t look like we’re gonna get the votes for it, but we need an audit. Anyway, you look at it, we need an audit,” said Smith McKnight.

On Tuesday, Clarke and Smith McKnight’s request for a forensic audit into all city departments failed a second time. They both say it’s because the people are asking for it.

“My take was that, we’ll try again,” said Smith McKnight, District 3.

Other commissioners feel a forensic audit would be digging for trouble when there is none.

“If you bring in a forensic audit they’re looking for potential criminal activity. You can’t change just because you say, that’s not what I’m asking for,” said Hasan, District 6.

The talks of audits come at a time when Commissioner Sammie Sias is facing two federal indictments and Mayor Hardie Davis’ credit card spending is raising questions.

“Basically, we’re just looking to see if there’s any time that we need to check on spending,” said Smith McKnight.

Davis’ office is currently under an internal audit request that he asked for, led by the Augusta Finance Department.

Those commissioners who voted down the forensic audit request say if the results of the current audit show red flags their opinions might change.

“So when that comes back you decide whether there are some findings or not,” said Hasan.

The mayor’s audit should be completed in about 14 days so now it’s a waiting game.

Clarke and Smith McKnight say they’ll bring back the forensic audit request in a few weeks. Clarke says he’s working to see if that audit request can be put on a ballot for you to vote on. We reached out to the elections office to see if that would be possible, they say questions like these aren’t typically placed on the ballot.

Commissioners were also presented the results of the 2020 state mandated government audit Tuesday and those results said the city spending was responsible and clean.

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