Audit questions Tampa mayor's SUV - WFLA News Channel 8

Audit questions Tampa mayor's SUV

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TAMPA, FL (WFLA) - An audit of Tampa’s use of grant funds for security at the Republican National Convention raises questions about the SUV bought with grant money and used by Tampa’s mayor.

The audit by the Department of Justice’s Office of the Inspector General includes a photo of the Chevrolet Suburban sitting in Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn’s parking space. Those conducting the audit saw the mayor occasionally driving himself in that vehicle, according to the audit.

“Although the Financial Guide is silent on the definition of the term ‘criminal justice purpose,’  in our judgement the term does not include the use and transportation of non-law enforcement or public safety personnel,” the audit said.

However, a footnote at the bottom of the audit also says the use may not be “disallowable” depending on whether the mayor uses the vehicle for personal use.

News Channel 8 contacted the mayor’s office for comment on the issue, but a spokeswoman for Buckhorn said was not in the office, and referred questions to the Tampa Police Department, which administered the grant.

“We bought that vehicle for dignitary protection and now, post-RNC, it’s used every single day for dignitary protection,” said TPD spokeswoman Laura McElroy.

McElroy said won’t change daily operations but will change the language of interdepartmental procedures to add a line saying that part of the mayor’s dignitary protection will utilize a police vehicle.

The mayor sometimes drives the vehicle to meet the officer on his security detail instead of having that officer drive, she said. Also, as with the police chief who is on call 24-7, the mayor is not prohibited from making personal stops in the vehicle as well, she said.

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