Comptroller claims domestic violence organization falsified time - WSMV News 4

Comptroller claims domestic violence organization falsified time cards for grant money

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(WSMV file photo) (WSMV file photo)

The Tennessee Coalition to End Domestic and Sexual Violence has been around for 30 years as a resource for women, men and families who've been victims of violence and abuse.

Tuesday, executive director Kathy Walsh was under the microscope after an audit released by the Tennessee Comptroller's Office reported that employees falsified time cards and were instructed to say they worked on grants for longer period of time than they actually did.

According to the Comptroller's office report, "The Coalition’s method of allocating time to grants increases the risk that grants may be charged for time that was not actually spent working on the grant."

The release went on to say, "Employees were instructed to falsely allocate percentages of time worked on various grants. Changes to time records were also made after the end of the respective pay periods."

Investigators are questioning more than $515,000 in salary costs the staff gained from grants during the 2016 fiscal year, including nearly $26,000 of Walsh's salary gained from an unclear number of hours spent lobbying at the capitol using grant money.

Investigators say one employee reported that she was told to say she worked on a federal grant even though she didn't and that she was coached by Walsh to say her time cards were accurate.

Another employee was paid personal leave time, four months after she resigned. Walsh is a registered lobbyist with the Tennessee Lobbyist Association. The IRS mandates that 501(c)3 organizations can lobby some, but not use a substantial amount of time or money lobbying or the group could lose tax-exempt status.

Each of Walsh's lobby reports filed with Tennessee Ethics Commission dating back to 2008 have all listed $10,000 or less in expenditures.

News 4 went to the coalition's offices Tuesday to ask Walsh about the audit. A staff member told News 4 that Walsh was in a staff meeting and would not be giving interviews. Walsh later sent News 4 a statement saying in part:

Our organization is based on the values of integrity, empowerment and accountability and we have a thirty-year proven track record of being trusted stewards of the public funding we receive to support our work.

The Tennessee Coalition has responded in detail to the initial audit findings of the Tennessee Comptroller’s Office. We have identified areas where we have opportunities to enhance our processes and have included those in our response. We have also noted areas in the audit where we believe the findings are in error, are not supported by the data or are based on inaccurate, outdated or incomplete information or policies. We will continue to maintain an open and constructive dialogue with the Comptroller’s Office to resolve any outstanding issues related to its audit findings.

Click here to view the comptroller's report.

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