Independent audit: COMBAT program misspent millions

September 19, 2019 - 7:32 am

An independent audit of Jackson County’s COMBAT program shows millions of dollars has been misspent.

The funds are meant for fighting violent crime and drug addiction, but in one outlay from 2016 to 2018, more than $2.2 million was spent on doors at the county jail. COMBAT management did not know where the money was going, auditors said.

Prosecutor Jean Peters Baker was given control of COMBAT in January after a judge ruled the previous year that the Jackson County Legislature had legal authority to change oversight. The prosecutor immediately ordered the audit from local accounting firm BKD. County Executive Frank White was against the change in oversight.

The Jackson County Prosecutor's Office has, as promised, released the full final report of an independent audit of COMBAT's financial practices.

— JacksonCountyCOMBAT (@JacksonCoCombat) September 18, 2019
"I'm not going to be ever someone that is afraid to deliver the bad news, that you might be so mad that I just can't give you any bad news," Baker said. "So if that is how my county executive responds, then shame on him."

Auditors also found no evidence of county legislators being kept in the loop when it came to spending for construction and renovation of county facilities. A KMBZ request for an interview with White was not answered before deadline. A written statement from White's office said the audit is being reviewed, but factual inaccuracies have already been discovered.

Baker prefers to look for solutions.

"Enough of this pettiness, it truly has to stop," she said. "The only way we can have really good county government is if we work together. Sometimes if we gotta deliver bad news like this independent audit, these are not my findings, these are the findings of BKD."

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