Todd takes office amid controversy

Ashlee Clark

Observers wouldn’t have been able to tell that anything was amiss within the Student Government Association at its banquet on Tuesday.

Henderson junior Nick Todd, who had just been sworn in as SGA president, smiled as his predecessor, John Bradley, jokingly passed along a purple stress ball and other trinkets he’d collected during his presidency.

But throughout the ceremony, a controversy over a reported misuse of more than $600 from an SGA Dining Dollars account continued.

Todd remains the only suspect in the ongoing investigation.

There were 138 food purchases of less than $10 deducted from the Dining Dollars account during the past academic year, according to an independent review by the Herald of SGA’s financial documents.

The Herald obtained the records through an open records request.

The small purchases were made at the Subway restaurant in Downing University Center, the Subway in Garrett Center, the Fresh Food Company, Freshens, Java City, Domino’s restaurant, Garrett Food Court and Grille Works, the records stated.

The Herald received no receipts for the small purchases, but SGA officials said that the organization does not require receipts for purchases from the Dining Dollars account.

The Dining Dollars account, which was provided by Aramark, was intended to be used by SGA members for the organizations’ functions, according to a contract between the university and the food service provider.

The university internal auditor, student judicial affairs and campus police are all conducting investigations into the reported improprieties.

Todd said in a statement last week that he feels he has “done nothing wrong” concerning his involvement into the alleged improprieties.

Some of those purchases were made at different times throughout the day, and the account was used as many as three times in one day.

Todd, whose term as SGA vice president of finance ended on Tuesday, said that the small purchases could have been made by committees with only a few members.

Todd said that his card was used by different SGA members “at least 50 different times” for meetings within the organization.

“My card is the card that everybody uses,” he said.

The Herald also obtained receipts or order purchases to 13 of the transactions.

SGA adviser Charley Pride said it was not required to turn in receipts for purchases made with the SGA Dining Dollars account.

It is possible that there “would have been a flag a lot sooner” about a potential misuse of funds if receipts for small purchases were required, he said.

“All of us were under the impression that we had to give receipts to Nick, and that was the expectation,” Bradley said.

Bradley said last week that the purchases that are being investigated were “small amount purchases.”

There was no written guidelines limiting the Dining Dollars account to SGA-related events, but it was understood that the account was for student government functions, Bradley said.

Pride, Bradley and Todd were the only people who had cards that could access the account.

Pride said his card was never used. Bradley identified six transactions that he said he believes were made from his card.

SGA financial records are to be made available “at all times to all persons in the SGA office” and current records would be available at SGA meetings, according to the SGA financial guidelines handbook.

The Dining Dollars account balance was not displayed on the SGA budget report until the March 30 meeting.

But Bradley said the account hadn’t been put on the report in previous years. The executive officers requested that it appear on the report at every meeting this year, he said.

The internal auditor will give recommendation on how to change current practices to prevent misuses of SGA funds, Pride said.

Rob Chrisler, director of auxiliary services, said SGA leadership and Pride would decide what purchases could be made with the Dining Dollars account.

Aramark gave SGA $5,000 as part of a contract with Western.

There is about $1,200 remaining in the Dining Dollars account.

In his first act as president, Todd swore in Radcliff sophomore Katie Dawson as the executive vice president and Evelina Petkova, a junior from Bulgaria, as the administrative vice president.

Reach Ashlee Clark at [email protected]