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Audit reveals issues at Dept. of Community Correction

DCC undergoes an annual audit, but this year, the report revealed a few issues that are concerning lawmakers. (KATV Photo)

State auditors say the Department of Community Correction (DCC) isn't following Arkansas law when it comes to its close association with non-profits run by its employees.

DCC undergoes an annual audit, but this year, the report revealed a few issues that are concerning lawmakers.

The Department of Community Correction is tasked with supervising criminal offenders in the community, but a recent report by auditors suggests it is DCC that needs more monitoring.

The annual audit noted the use of DCC staff, equipment and resources to raise funds and promote three nonprofits, which are run by and made up of DCC employees.

But according to the DCC, the nonprofits themselves do a lot of good for employees, like the Arkansas Association of Correctional Employees Trust - also known as AACET.

"It helps out in times of need when someone loses their house to a flood or a tornado or a fire," said Dina Tyler, DCC deputy director of communications.

DCC Chief Deputy Director Kevin Murphy collects a salary of $108,000 a year from DCC, and according to the audit, he collects an additional $50,000 from AACET. The audit found he sent and received 6,000 emails for the nonprofit on company time.

DCC points out receiving the emails doesn't mean he read them during office hours.

"Does he occasionally answer an email on state time? Yes, but we're talking about a salaried employee who puts in way more than 40 hours a week," Tyler said.

DCC is now taking steps to clear up those blurred lines by signing a memorandum of understanding with the nonprofit, essentially making the emails okay as long as AACET reimburses DCC for the time.

But a second issue with AACET may not be as easy to resolve.

They raise funds with two annual golf tournaments. Companies can't sponsor the tournament, and according to auditors, that gives them access to key management at DCC.

Auditors found that 27 vendors who contributed to the golf tourney received payments totaling $11.5 million in 2016 and $12.4 million through April of this year.

That doesn't look good to Rep. Andy Mayberry, who sits on the joint legislative audit committee.

"When you're going out and soliciting donations and people are providing donations and then some of those same entities are receiving tens of millions of dollars in payments back in state taxpayer dollars, if that's not a direct violation of Arkansas code, it certainly has at bare minimum an appearance of impropriety," said Rep. Andy Mayberry.

In order to learn more about the relationships with the nonprofits, lawmakers ordered a second audit, which is expected to be released in January.

Mayberry hopes that will clear things up one way or another.

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