09
May

NEWBY MISSPENT GOVERNMENT FUNDS ON TOYS, BOOKS AND TRAVEL

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: May 9, 2016

Contact: Daniel Stevens, dstevens@campaignforaccountability.org, 202.780.5750

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, Campaign for Accountability (CfA) called on Kansas Attorney General Derek Schmidt to investigate former Johnson County Election Commissioner Brian Newby for flagrantly violating Kansas criminal law by submitting false expenses, misusing public funds, and conspiring to cover up his conduct. Mr. Newby held his Kansas position for ten years, departing in November 2015 to serve as the executive director of the U.S. Election Assistance Commission.

Read the complaint here.

CfA Executive Director Anne Weismann stated, “Mr. Newby treated the state treasury like his personal piggybank. He bilked taxpayers out of tens of thousands of dollars – buying high-priced toys and building a personal library – all while conspiring with a subordinate to avoid detection.  The Attorney General should immediately investigate Mr. Newby’s actions and prosecute him to the fullest extent of the law.”

Mr. Newby’s misdeeds came to light as a result of a transition audit after he left office.  On March 17, 2016, the Johnson County Auditor released a report, revealing his extensive misuse of state funds.  Based on the audit, CfA has asked the Attorney General to investigate Mr. Newby for fraud, misuse of public funds, conspiracy, and obstruction of justice.

In a two-year period, from June 2013 through October 2015, Mr. Newby’s office spent at least $39,600.76 on questionable items, including $2,506.99 for a Google Glass Explorer, $649 for an Amazon Fire phone, and $479.98 for a GoPro Hero4 camera as well as $8,925.37 on books irrelevant to the office, with titles like Lonely Planet Georgia, Armenia, & Azerbaijan (Travel Guide) and Clinton, Inc.: The Audacious Rebuilding of a Political Machine.

Auditors reported that 16 laptops were not recorded in the office’s official inventory.  Mr. Newby justified these purchases, claiming  he bought several computers at once “because he drops them often and wants to have a spare if needed.”

In addition, auditors found Mr. Newby made claims for improper reimbursements totaling $5,288 stemming from 36 of the 45 trips Mr. Newby took between January 2010 and August 2015.  He made claims for travel when he actually was in the office, he upgraded rooms at government expense, and  used a limousine service to travel to and from the local airport 34 times at a cost of $3,735, despite simultaneously receiving a monthly car allowance of $300.

Perhaps most damning, to avoid detection, rather than using his own state-issued credit card, Mr. Newby regularly used the card of the assistant commissioner.  This allowed him to review and approve most of the purchases himself, as his own spending had to be approved by the county manager.

The full text of the audit can be found here.

Ms. Weisman continued, “Government officials who violate the public trust must be held accountable for their actions.  No one who has abused his state office as Mr. Newby clearly did should be awarded a new perch in the federal government.  The Election Assistance Commission should demand his resignation and its inspector general should also take a close look to make sure Mr. Newby hasn’t been replicating his Kansas spending habits in Washington.

CfA is nonprofit watchdog organization that uses research, litigation, and aggressive communications to expose misconduct and malfeasance in public life and hold those who act at the expense of the public good accountable for their actions.