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Auditor finds Utah dairy commission spent for manicure, football tickets

Auditor finds Utah dairy commission spent for manicure, football tickets (Photo: KUTV)
Auditor finds Utah dairy commission spent for manicure, football tickets (Photo: KUTV)
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(KUTV) The Utah Dairy Commission -- otherwise known as the Dairy Council -- got more than milk, according to a new report from the Utah State Auditor's Office.

"I am very concerned," said State Auditor John Dougall, who questioned how the "independent state entity" was spending public money.

An audit presented to lawmakers on Wednesday found "inadequate internal controls over credit cards," and drew special attention to some examples.

"The commission incurred 122 credit card charges totaling $9,213 for which there were either no original receipts or no itemized receipts," according to the report. "Twenty-five credit card charges, totaling $2,498 were made at restaurants but did not have documentation specifying the purpose of the meal or who attended."

"If you go, it needs to be for a business purpose," said Dougal. "You should list who attended the meeting and what the business purpose was. We saw many charges that just didn't have that kind of documentation."

Dougall said some of the expenditures were at Starbucks locations, which seemed close to the homes of the person or persons using the card -- and were not made during a business day, but on weekends.

Questionable spending did not end there.

"$588 was charged for four board members to attend the Utah State University annual Ag Day BBQ and football game," said the report.

And auditors were able to put their finger on a perhaps even more surprising expense.

"A personal manicure for $180 was charged on a commission credit card," the audit noted, a manicure Dougall said was for the commission's CEO.

"They claim the money was paid back," Dougal said. "But it was supposedly paid back in cash, and there was no way to verify that actually took place."

2News left two phone messages for the CEO, Jenn Harrison, who was said to be out of town.

In written responses to the audit concerns, the commission pledged some new procedures, but also said the Auditor's Office has a "general misunderstanding" of the commissions role.

"The organization's efforts are 100 percent funded by dairy farmer dollars -- no tax payer dollars support dairy council activities," according to the group's website.

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But Dougall said the commission receives "milk tax" money, and the audit maintained "because the state legislature created the commission and authorizes this tax, the commission should consider all revenues collected through the assessment as 'public funds."

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