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Airport Audit Released

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LITTLE ROCK -

An era of loose spending has already been reigned in at Arkansas' largest airport.

But a close examination of that era is now available for review.

A legislative audit of Bill and Hillary Clinton national airport is complete.

One finding:  the Airport Director and Deputy Director were both issued American Express Platinum cards in 2009 that were to be used for emergencies only.

By the end of 2010, there had been close to $100,000 charged for things like travel, meals and membership fees.

In addition to the platinum card usage, another $187,500 was rung up on Visa cards issued to Director Ron Mathieu, his Deputy Director and executive staff members.

A review of those credit card expenses reveals suspected violations of the Public Purpose Doctrine, including "gifts, flowers, club dues, charitable donations, non employee travel, parties, alcoholic beverages and excessive gratuities."

Many of the purchases lacked proper receipts or documentation.

The audit found that many of these questionable airport purchases were for spouses or family members or for non-reimbursable items.

Airport officials admit that during the time of the review period monitoring of spending was lacking and that many changes were made and are now in place.

"This is something we are going to take a very close look at as we always want to be in compliance with the law," Airport spokesperson Shane Carter told us in a telephone interview.  "And there was no fraud that was identified here.  Only some areas recommended for the commission to examine. And the majority of the ideas identified were previously corrected before the report was given to us.

Auditors looked at the first three months of airport expenses from 2012 and found new polices were being followed.

This audit will be presented to legislators on May 9th.

Not everyone cooperated with the audit.

Auditors wanted to interview the airport's former finance director.  But she refused.

When she was let go, she received a severance package and signed an agreement that prevents her from saying anything negative about the airport.

Mr. Carter says such an agreement would not prevent cooperation with an investigation.

Air date:  March 20th, 2013