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SANDAG has new credit card rules. But will anyone face discipline for past misuse?

Stronger policies and new spending limits are in place, but SANDAG has yet to decide whether any disciplinary action is needed for the improper spending
Credit: Zoë Meyers/inewsource
SANDAG Executive Director Hasa Ikhrata attends a SANDAG board meeting in San Diego, May 13, 2022.

SAN DIEGO — The San Diego Association of Governments now has new policies meant to limit staff’s lavish restaurant spending and credit card misuse after a scathing audit, first reported on by inewsource, flagged expenses.

Board members unanimously approved the rules during their board meeting Friday, now requiring staff to submit substantially more documentation for credit card charges and business meals. The cost of meals are now subject to annual rates set by the federal government; in San Diego, for example, dinner is capped at $34 per person.

But SANDAG has yet to complete its review of past transactions to determine whether any “corrective action,” including disciplinary action or requiring employees to repay the agency for charges, is needed.

Deputy CEO Ray Major told inewsource SANDAG employees are working remotely after the agency closed offices due to a COVID-19 outbreak. Staff will resume their review of the original receipts — stored on site in bankers boxes — when they return in early July.

“A lot of people are looking at this agency and the fact that we have found areas where monies were spent in excess,” said Carlsbad mayor and SANDAG board member Matt Hall. “I think the quicker we can clear the air on this and get that monies back in our coffers, the better it is.”

The new policies come after SANDAG’s internal auditor earlier this year flagged “questionable” and “improper” transactions, including nearly $70,000 spent at local restaurants over a four-year period. inewsource later obtained records revealing that some of the agency’s highest-paid staff regularly held business meetings at high-profile restaurants and often were joined by elected officials, fellow employees, consultants and lobbyists.

To read the full story from inewsource, click here.

inewsource is a nonprofit, independently funded newsroom that produces impactful investigative and accountability journalism in San Diego County. Learn more at inewsource.org.

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