Group Calls For Investigation Into Tourism Department's Finances

Friday, December 22nd 2017, 8:40 am
By: Grant Hermes

Calls are growing louder for an investigation into financial mismanagement at the Department of Tourism.

Earlier this week, the Public Employees Association called on the district attorney, the attorney general and lawmakers to investigate what they characterized as rampant lawlessness at the department. 

Employees allege thousands of dollars were mismanaged for years. According to a recent audit of the department, it wasn't just money but also department assets including misplaced or miscatalogued firearms for park rangers. 

Employees also describe a toxic culture inside the department. The head of the Public Employees Association said workers who spoke up were often fired and then paid to keep quiet using money from state funds.

News 9 asked to speak to several employees and a former internal auditor at the Department of Tourism but they said they were too afraid of retaliation to come forward. That auditor thought it could be so bad he left the state. 

This comes at the same time the Department of Health is being investigated for mismanaging millions of dollars in taxpayer funds.

Back in October, officials at the department admitted to wrongdoing but said they didn't know they were breaking the law. A spokesperson for the department said they wouldn't answer any claims made by employees but would be willing to answer the questions of lawmakers should there be an officials investigation.