Eclectic commentary from a progressive voice in the red state

Wednesday, July 6, 2016

Shirts, shoes and golfing news for Amarillo taxpayers

On ABC7 Amarillo’s investigative team members Niccole Caan and Kendra Hall found Amarillo Economic Development Corp. top executives living high on the taxpayers’ hog with extravagant expenditures for entertainment, meals, hotels and four-figure golf outings. But that’s not all.

On the ABC7 Amarillo Nightside broadcast earlier tonight, the team reported that, after going through thousands of pages of documents, it found personal clothing and more.

ABC7 Amarillo’s reporters found VP of Business Development Brian Jennings was repaid for $75 of golf shirts at Ross Rogers Golf Course; and he was reimbursed $124 for two dress shirts he bought at Dillard’s Jan. 24, 2014, returning one shirt for a $70 credit three days later.

Interim CEO Doug Nelson explained the AEDC staffers wear shirts with the organization’s logo to advance the AEDC “brand.” That answer was in relation to the shirts bought in Amarillo. But the ABC7 team found documentation of clothing on a Jennings receipt, but was part of a pricey trip the Pinehurst in North Carolina.

And this list went on. The ABC7 team also found receipts for golf equipment, such as golf clubs and a golf umbrella, but only a few checks from either David or Jennings paying the AEDC back. The receipts included wiper blades and car washes, which Nelson explained were for the vehicle the AEDC owns and uses for escorting visitors around the area.

And who are those visitors? That remains confidential, Nelson said. In reviewing the spending, however, there was no way to tie back any specific expense to a particular client or prospect.

And then there are the dollars here and there for bottled water, coffee and chewing gum backed up by hand-written receipts.

Nelson justified the expenses by acknowledging no written policies guide these expenditures. And, David approved his own expenditures and every moment of travel was “on the clock.”

But it’s not as though David and Jennings are paid slave wages. In 2015, David’s base salary was $241,000 with a $50,000 bonus. Jennings pulled down $117,000 with a $10,000 bonus.