Massachusetts Treasury Officials Splurged with Credit Cards

Massachusetts Treasury Officials Splurged with Credit Cards

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Mike Randall
By: Mike Randall
Posted: December 12, 2014
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It seems average Americans aren’t the only ones guilty of over-indulging with credit cards. Recently released spending records show Massachusetts State Treasury officials have gone on a spending spree using their credit card expense accounts.

Massachusetts State Treasurer Steve Grossman released credit card records for the previous six months, showing more than $50,000 in expenses charged by officials in the treasury. These expenditures include things like airline tickets, luxury hotel rooms and parking expenses.

The Boston Herald was the first to report the credit card spending spree and also stated credit card expenses have increased dramatically under State Treasurer Steve Grossman’s command.

Grossman, who will be leaving his position in January after serving four years as the state’s chief financial overseer, pledged to make all expense records available for public scrutiny. He has also said all of the expenses in the recently released records are for legitimate business purposes.

Some of the expenses include:

  • More than $5,000 for four treasury officials to travel to New York City and stay in a luxury hotel that charged $589-a-night rooms.
  • A deputy treasurer charged $4,300 to her credit card over a five-month period for parking garage fees and a $300 membership fee reimbursement.
  • The first deputy treasurer and an assistant state treasurer used credit cards to fund trips to Santa Fe, New Mexico, Washington, D.C., and New York City. The total expenses were a combined $15,700.

Prior to Grossman taking office in 2011, the Massachusetts State Treasurer’s credit card expenses totaled just under $9,000. After his first full year, Grossman’s office had charged more than $51,000 on credit cards. In the most recent fiscal year, that amount had jumped to more than $121,000.

Hopefully they were able to rack up some excellent rewards — by selecting the right credit card, all of the charges and expenses could have earned them even more perks.

In defending his department’s credit card expenses, Grossman has said it is the result of a change in policy. Previously treasury employees had been required to pay for their expenses out of pocket and file expense reports for reimbursement. Upon taking office, Grossman implemented the use of credit cards to cover expenses by employees.

When asked about the change in his office’s policy, Grossman has said, “I think [the use of credit cards] is more transparent. Each and every one of these expenses was done for a reason or a particular goal.”

According to certain government watchdog groups, the use of credit cards for covering state employee expenses actually creates less transparency and promotes a lack of accountability.

“While there may be a business justification for allowing state workers to charge these expenses, the fact that so much is being put on credit cards raises the concern that these expenses are not being reviewed as thoroughly as they would be if workers had to show documents to get reimbursed,” said David Teurck, of the Beacon Hill Institute.

Grossman, who in September lost his bid to become Governor of Massachusetts, will be leaving as the State Treasurer Jan.21. He has promised to make full spending records for past fiscal years available before he leaves office.

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