Only one board member of the Regional Coalition of LANL Communities, Henry Roybal, had the political courage and leadership to question the reimbursements. No one else spoke up before the audit and investigation!
The State Auditor’s office has designated the Regional Coalition of LANL Communities for a special audit, State Auditor Wayne Johnson confirmed Tuesday.Johnson is looking at coalition claims for travel mileage, double reimbursement, reimbursement for alcohol, money for baseball tickets and more.The coalition has called a meeting for Friday in Española.
For the first time since January, public comment is allowed for the meeting, according to its website. On its agenda packet, the agency provided an email from Helen Perraglio and David Griego, Los Alamos County’s chief financial officer and senior management analyst, respectively, to County Manager Harry Burgess. The county is the fiscal agent for the coalition, which is a nonprofit focused on community and economic development, site employment, environmental remediation and funding for Los Alamos National Laboratories
.Perraglio and Griego found issues with 19 reimbursable payments, with 12 Major League Baseball tickets and alcohol reimbursement being labeled as “direct violations.” The two recommended a heavy travel and expense reimbursement compliance review.According to the Santa Fe New Mexican, the coalition submitted a $1,850 invoice to Los Alamos County in February for a three-course meal for 16 people. The alcohol alone totaled $380. The agency’s executive director at the time, Andrea Romero, was reimbursed for the entire amount, but said she’s offered to pay back the money if it comes to that.”I support this investigation and I have also offered to reimburse the organization for any expenses that are found to be out of compliance because I believe so strongly in the mission of RCLC and the directors who serve in a voluntary capacity,” Romero wrote in a statement to Business First. “As you are aware, all expenses and reimbursement requests were pre-approved by the Los Alamos fiscal agent and Regional Coalition of LANL Communities’ treasurer, and not by me, as I had no authority to approve these expenses.”She said her contract expired at the beginning of the month and she is no longer with the organization.Johnson said between $20,000 and $30,000 of taxpayer money is potentially at stake.
He said the hope for his office is to have the audit wrapped up in the next four to six weeks.Johnson was tabbed by Gov. Susana Martinez in December to replace Tim Keller after he resigned as State Auditor to become mayor of Albuquerque. Johnson said in a statement then he will make sure to hold “necessary agencies and people” accountable, according to previous Business First reporting.