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Payments to Cordell mayor may have violated law, Oklahoma state auditor says

Cordell Mayor Alex Damon collected more than $260,000 in pay beyond his salary as mayor and may have used the city's gas card to fund concert outings for his personal band, according to an Oklahoma state audit released Thursday.
BY ZEKE CAMPFIELD Modified: January 24, 2013 at 9:09 pm •  Published: January 25, 2013

State law prohibits an elected official from collecting a salary from a government position beyond the scope of his elected duties.

City Councilman Terry Patton said the move was approved by the Oklahoma Municipal League.

“We've had problems with city administrators in the past and he served at the job when we were without one,” Patton said. “It always comes back to he's more qualified than anybody else we can get.”

Auditors reported the city could not produce documentation that the league approved the additional assignments and salary.

‘Beyond a misunderstanding'

According to the audit, Damon continued to collect a salary as general manager of the utilities company after its board twice voted not to renew his contract. He also cast the tiebreaking vote to terminate the search for a new city administrator.

“In our view, this matter goes beyond a misunderstanding or misinterpretation of (utilities trust) board policy or the provisions of the contract,” auditors wrote.

Auditors found on Damon's Facebook page seven instances in 2011 when he used the city's gas card on the same day his band, Damon Jackson Band, performed out of town.

Auditors estimated he received $32,000 in taxable travel reimbursements between 2007 and 2011 that were not reported to state or federal tax agencies, and that the city's former treasurer and clerk used the gas card for their personal vehicles in several instances.

Auditors also noted Damon paid himself $10,400 in grant funds after designating himself grant coordinator.

The report shows auditors also found evidence Damon was using his city computer for his band enterprise and for his political campaigns.

In addition to referring the matter to the local district attorney, auditors recommended the city review its pay, travel and reimbursement policies.