State orders audit of Okaloosa finances, clerk's office

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Okaloosa County Commission Chairman Don Amunds discusses changes the county has implemented in the wake of the Mark Bellinger TDC fraud scandal during a hearing Monday afternoon in Tallahassee.

DEVON RAVINE / Northwest Florida Daily News
Published: Tuesday, February 12, 2013 at 05:07 PM.

TALLAHASSEE— The state’s Joint Legislative Auditing Committee on Monday ordered a countywide audit of all Okaloosa County finances as well as an audit of the Clerk of Court’s Office.

The action came during a hearing in Tallahassee attended by four of Okaloosa County’s five commissioners as well as Clerk of Court Don Howard.

Commissioner Wayne Harris did not attend the hearing and will be subpoenaed to appear before the committee next week, members indicated. Also facing subpoenas are a majority of the county’s Tourist Development Council members, none of whom attended Monday’s hearing despite being requested to by the Auditing Committee.

Auditing Committee Chairman Sen. Joseph Abruzzo told the county that on Wednesday it would finalize a list of people who are to be subpoenaed to appear before the committee next week.

County Commission Chairman Don Amunds told the committee that four of the TDC members likely did not attend because they were asked by the county to resign Feb. 5 and are no longer on the council.

Abruzzo, D-Wellington, said he was skeptical of the county’s timing and questioned why the board waited until last week to ask for the TDC members’ resignations.

“It seems like a deliberate attempt by your board to ensure they didn’t have to come up and (testify) today. … To me, it looks extremely disingenuous.” Abruzzo said.

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