On the Fourth of July, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported Governor Jim Doyle and his staff failed to properly account for 145 travel expenses over two years, including a $5,200 business-class flight to Ireland and a $654-a-night stay in a London hotel. What’s more, the MJS reported that nearly three-fourths of the time in 2007 and 2008, Doyle and his staff didn’t supply receipts as required under state travel policy. Lieutenant Governor Barbara Lawton and her staff weren’t much better, failing to provide receipts one-third of the time during the same period. When the story first broke, I refrained from writing about it – not because it wasn’t newsworthy, and not because Jim Doyle is a Democrat – but because I wanted more time to really digest the story. Having had a few weeks to ponder the charges leveled against Gov. Doyle, his staff, and Lt. Gov. Lawton and her staff, I can now say I’m mad as hell (pardon the language) about this situation, and I’ll tell you why.
As someone who falls under the same travel voucher system as the governor, I know all too well that a failure to properly document travel expenses is a big problem, especially if I want to get properly reimbursed for those expenses. I’m expected to account for each mile for which I’m asking to be reimbursed, and I’m expected to provide receipts for any expenses (hotel, parking, meals, etc.) that I may incur while traveling on state business.
No receipt? No problem….I just won’t get reimbursed.
I’ve never been provided with a state-issued credit card, as is the case with Gov. Doyle and his staff, but the fact that they were unwilling to provide receipts for all expenses, as is required by law, is simply galling. What’s even more galling is the assertion by Gov. Doyle’s chief legal counsel that the governor’s process of documenting travel adheres to the policy’s intent, if not to the letter of the policy. That’s an absolutely stunning statement, and I’m willing to bet if I tried that argument with my supervisor, I’d get laughed right out of her office.
Democrat or not, Gov. Doyle needs to follow the letter of the state’s travel and credit card policy, not just what he feels the intent of the policy might be; after all, he should be setting a positive example for each and every employee of the State of Wisconsin.