Aug. 3, 2005 – Legislation just signed into law by Gov. Charles W. Turnbull making any recipients of government funding subject to government audit caps a two-year feud between the Senate Finance Committee and the V.I. Carnival Committee.
The new law empowers the Office of Insector General to undertake audits of any such entities at the request of the governor or the Legislature or on the inspector general's own initiative.
The V.I. Carnival Committee has repeatedly defied demands by the Senate Finance Committee to produce financial records showing how it spent more than $300,000 in public money appropriated for this year's St. Thomas event. Carnival Committee officials have contended that because their organization is a not-for-profit corporation, and not a government agency, it does not have to open its financial records to public scrutiny.
Government investigators had first sought to review Carnival Committee records in 2002, when the committee received more than $900,000 in government funding for the 50th anniversary festivities. But ambiguity in law and the committee's refusal to cooperate blocked auditors, Inspector General Steven van Beverhoudt said on Tuesday.
Carnival Committee officials filed a complaint in Territorial Court in June asking a judge to bar the Senate from demanding to see the financial records, according to Caswil Callender, the committee's executive director. A trial date has not yet been set.
Each year the committee has given the Senate a report of how the government money is spent, but the Senate had no authority to conduct an audit, Callender said on Tuesday.
Callender said he could not comment on how the law signed by the governor on Friday might affect the case, because he had not seen it yet.
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