The ongoing investigation into possible business and spending malfeasance in the Pittsburgh Bureau of Police has uncovered the existence of an account at a local credit union that might have been used to hide spending from public scrutiny. Pittsburgh City Controller Michael Lamb has sent a request to the Mayor’s office asking for receipts supporting all transaction involving the account.
“One of the day-to-day functions of this office is to preaudit every expenditure the city enters into,” said Lamb. “These expenditures have escaped that process because of the nature of the fund.”
A former body guard for Mayor Luke Ravenstahl told the Post Gazette yesterday that the Pittsburgh police officers assigned to the security detail were given debit cards to cover expenses and that “the mayor and public safety director knew that debit cards used by the security detail were linked to a non-governmental account at the Greater Pittsburgh Police Federal Credit Union and that the cards were used to avoid media scrutiny of certain expenditures.”
Lamb said the secrecy surrounding the account is the very reason why the funds must be audited as soon as possible and potential problems that flow from such accounts are the reason why his office exists.
“The mayor said yesterday that these funds were used to pay for official business, that’s got to be in the public sphere, people need to be able to see that and we have to put it through the normal process of any public expenditure,” said Lamb, who is also running against the mayor in the Democratic primary.
Ravenstahl has said that he knew the officers in his security detail were using debit cards for official business but until recently he did not know they were associated with an account at the credit union.
Lamb admits that there are federal agencies looking at the same records and that if there is malfeasance involved he would have to turn over to law enforcement anything he finds that might lead to criminal prosecution.
“It’s about shining a light on what’s going on within this government,” said Lamb. “The letter we sent is the same letter we would have sent on any given day to any given official given what we know right now.”
Lamb said the Ravenstahl administration has not responded to his request.