Editorials

Keep those public credit cards holstered

Madison County Chairman Alan Dunstan made 14 personal purchases on his county credit card. He repaid the charges.
Madison County Chairman Alan Dunstan made 14 personal purchases on his county credit card. He repaid the charges. News-Democrat

Bless elections, when all the politicians become watchdogs and guardians of the public’s trust and dollars.

Madison County Treasurer Kurt Prenzler is taking this opportunity, as he runs against County Chairman Alan Dunstan, to let a little sunshine hit the county’s credit card receipts. He invokes Collinsville Councilwoman Cheryl Brombolich, and her 20 personal purchases on city accounts when she was a city employee, in his indictment of Dunstan’s 14 personal purchases.

What is different is that Brombolich failed to make restitution until she was caught; Dunstan appears to have repaid the county right after each purchase. What is the same is public officials thinking there is ever a circumstance in which it is a good idea to make a personal purchase with a public credit card.

Dunstan didn’t have to use a public card to make a $314 flight reservation for his wife. He could have booked the trip for two on his personal card, then sought reimbursement for his portion of the travel on county business.

We have no clue what civic good his two purchases at a Troy meat market serve.

Prenzler said other county leaders did not appear to feel entitled to make private purchases on the government credit cards. They seem to have the right idea, and it’s pretty simple: No personal use of public credit cards.

You wouldn’t use some weak excuse for crossing that line with your private employer, who expects receipts and exercises oversight on business accounts. Public leaders are spending someone else’s money, so they should be especially sensitive to how their purchases appear.

Common sense and a thought about how this looks would have saved Dunstan from defending himself now. He should have used his own credit card for those 14 purchases.

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