More Questions About Travel Expenses - WLOX.com - The News for South Mississippi

06/10/03

More Questions About Travel Expenses

As we first reported last week, a telephone poll commissioned by a consultant for Rockco's opponent questioned voters about Rockco's criticism of the Development Commission while Rockco was taking trips to New York and Washington, partly at the Development Commission's expense. Tuesday, Rockco sat down with us to review her expense records against the development commission's records. Rockco says the records do show, the development commission did indeed pay some of her expenses on three trips.

 On two trips to Washington, the development commission paid the tab for Rockco's travel, hotel room, and some meals. Rockco says, and the records confirm, that she paid $60 of a $150 dollar dinner bill on one of the Washington trips. The expenses of that dinner are not itemized and that's why Rockco says the records are not complete.

On a New York trip in January, 2002, the development commission records and Rockco's own financial statements show she paid more than $900 for her hotel room. Rockco's records also indicate she paid for at least some of her meals in New York.  However, the development commission paid $205 of Rockco's $351 plane ticket, while she paid $146 dollars of it.

Rockco says she understands travel is necessary for the development commission, supervisors and other elected officials, but she questions some of what she calls lavish expenses. "But the style in which we travel is very important and I know that some of the style that I was witness to on these trips was why I started to ask for accountability. I think it's a feeble attempt by the development commission and my opponent frankly to discredit me because of my continuing to ask for accountability.

Development Commission Director Michael Olivier is out of town and could not be reached for comment. Connie Rockco's opponent, Les Barnett, told us he just wants to run his campaign. Barnett says he's not involved in what he says appears to be a beef between Rockco and the development commission.

Marcia Hill

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