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Contact 5 investigates credit card spending by Riviera Beach council members

Posted at 7:21 PM, Mar 07, 2019
and last updated 2019-03-08 12:06:25-05

RIVIERA BEACH, Fla. — More than $500,000 in spending in Riviera Beach was questioned by an Inspector General’s Office report, released in January 2019.

The report looked at credit card expenses in 2017.

Now, Contact 5 took a closer look at the credit card expenditures from all council members and the mayor from January 2018 through February 2019, revealing the concerns mentioned in the OIG report of a lack of oversight are still relevant.

Here is what they spent in that 14-months timeframe:

Councilwoman Julia Botel: $3,035.94

Councilwoman Tonya Davis Johnson: $5,021.09

Councilwoman KaShamba Miller-Anderson: $10,370.92

Councilwoman Lynne Hubbard: $12,481.50

Mayor Thomas Masters: $7,715.90

Spending more than anyone else was Councilman Terence Davis with $21,486.27 in 14 months.

Davis refused to answer our repeated questions about the spending after a council meeting on Wednesday. Instead of answering if the money was spent appropriately, he whistled.

Some of the expenses included community events, like a screening of Black Panther in March, for which he spent $1452.

But then there is:

  • $478 spent in February 2018 at a jazz club.
  • $686 spent for picture frames
  • $340 spent at the Hilton on Singer Island for a hotel room for a comedian, performing at an event
  • $2090 on magnets with Davis’ name on it

The 300 magnets were purchased in January, close to the March election, alerting the internal auditor.

“It’s appalling,” said Councilwoman Botel, who is demanding more oversight. “I don’t think council members should have credit cards in their possession at all times.”

The internal auditor is now looking at Davis’ expenses and if they’re found to be not valid city charges, Davis might have to repay the city.

“We shouldn’t have them to just whip out of our wallet and pay for things when we think it’s appropriate when we think it’s appropriate ourselves, that’s not right,” Botel said.

Hubbard spent $4044 for mementos at the opening ceremony of the Cunningham Park. The order included hats, back scratchers, backpacks, and key lights.

Council members get paid $19,000 a year and have an additional car allowance of $9000. There is no monthly purchasing limit.

You can view all of the council members' credit card statements below. Trouble viewing? Click here for a larger version.