UPDATE: 7/12/2022 10:13 p.m.
WALTON COUNTY, Fla. (WMBB) — At Tuesday’s special meeting each Walton County Commissioner took the opportunity to dispute claims made in a recent audit done by the Clerk of Courts.
“As an elected constitutional officer I accept any responsibilities for a mistake I might make. However, I do not take responsibility for mistakes I have not made,” Commissioner Michael Barker said.
County Attorney Clay Adkinson, along with the rest of the commission, said the Clerk of Courts, Alex Alford, produced an inaccurate and flawed audit.
They said they never received a copy of the audit or even knew of it before it was made public.
“I take great issue regardless of any finding made or not made by the clerk,” Adkinson said. “The clerk strictly did not adhere to yellowbook standards of audit practice. This type of audit in my opinion required an opportunity for management response.”
Adkinson blamed the old administration saying there was widely inconsistent application of written policies.
“The most consistent trend was, why are you doing something wrong?” ‘Well we’ve always done it that way we know no other way to do it we were trained to do it this way,'” Adkinson said. “That is unacceptable. That is wholly and completely unacceptable.”
Some of the commissioners were accused of purchasing expensive hotel rooms, first class plane tickets and in some cases, alcohol.
Commissioners Glidewell and McCormick both deny ever purchasing alcohol.
“Well folks let me tell you something I ain’t that stupid,” McCormick said. “Do you really think I’m going to go into my own liquor store where I’ve lived for 60 years and buy alcohol and put that on a department card?”
McCormick, Glidewell, Nick and Anderson are all accused of booking expensive flights and hotel accommodations.
But McCormick said he’s never booked a flight or hotel room.
“I let my aide know where the time and the dates they get with then who was Marty who was the designated person to handle all of this for us, and she went out there shopping and we just took what we got,” McCormick said.
If that’s the case, then it would appear McCormick was letting other people use his card which is a violation of county policy.
Trey Nick is also accused of spending thousands of dollars more on a conference that was attended by other county employees who spent less.
When asked about the difference in cost, Nick said he didn’t have a comment.
It’s not lost on Walton County citizens that commissioners fired former County Administrator, Dede Hinote for the same reason back in March. But now they’re trying to walk that back saying they fired her because they were misled about a material fact.
But back in March when Hinote was fired, Barker said: “Sometimes things have to be done for the good of the order. Things have to be done to safeguard county government, county taxpayer funds, and those decisions have to be made by the board of county commissioners and today that’s what we’ve done.”
The county commission did not allow for public comment at Tuesday’s meeting. News 13 also went to Alford’s office for a comment on the allegations but he was not available.
Our previous version of the story is below.
WALTON COUNTY, Fla. (WMBB) — Walton commissioners blamed everyone but themselves at a highly-anticipated special meeting on a recent audit that accused all five county commissioners of misusing taxpayer money.
The boardroom was packed with people waiting to hear what the commission had to say about the allegations.
Commissioner Danny Glidewell waved a checkbook around and said he would pay back whatever he needed to, but based on what was said in the meeting, that probably won’t happen.
“If I owe a penny, I got my checkbook right here,” he said. “If the Clerk wants to walk up here and show me where I owe anything, I’ll pay it. But I don’t owe nothing. I don’t owe nobody nothing, because I have followed the rules and I’ve paid what I said.”
The commission said Walton Clerk of Court Alex Alford’s audit was full of inaccuracies and was flawed.
County Attorney Clay Adkinson along with other commissioners said Alford’s office never presented them with a copy of the audit, and they said they should have been given the opportunity to address the allegations before the audit was released to the public.
Commissioners addressed several of the smaller charges, but questions surrounding the expensive hotel rooms and first-class flights still remain.
Glidewell is one of the commissioners accused of booking a couple of first-class flights, but he denies any wrongdoing.
He also called Alford’s actions gutless and cowardly.
Several of the commissioners denied any wrongdoing. Glidewell and McCormick are both accused of purchasing alcohol on the county card, which is something Glidewell denies.
“I’ll say right now that’s a dadgum lie,” he said. “I have never done that, I will not do that, and whoever said it is a boldface liar and they hid behind anonymity, and I have great issue with that. If you got something to say to me, say it in public.”
All five commissioners did comment on the allegations at Tuesday’s meeting, and they all took an issue with the fact that the Clerk of Courts reportedly did not provide them with a copy of the audit and did not give them the chance to respond.
The commission did not allow any time for public comment, which upset many people at that meeting. Some people called the commissioners arrogant liars and said the meeting was a complete waste of time.
However, even though there was no time for public comment, that didn’t stop them from letting out a few “boos” and even laughing in the commissioners’ faces when it was their turn to speak.
News 13 reached out to Alford for comment, and he did not respond.