UPDATE: Normal and Scott Preston

I received the following email from Jason Chambers:

Ms. Benjamin,

I was contacted by someone asking about the prosecutor in the Preston matter and the possible cost. They indicated they had heard there was an expense in that regard from you.  Just for information purposes, I wanted to let you know that there is no additional cost to McLean County when matters are referred to the Appellate Prosecutors Office.  If they do one conflict referral or fifty, there is no additional cost to McLean County.  Because Scott has been my friend in the past and because the matter was brought to me by other people I consider friends, I thought it was cleaner to avoid the appearance of impropriety.  This way, if the Appellate Prosecutor signs off on the matter saying there is no wrongdoing, then no one can say it is because Scott got off easy due to a friendship.

Jason Chambers

Another note:  The Pantagraph article states a Town of Normal auditor noted improprieties last July including problems with Normal’s travel policy.  Why was nothing done then?

___________________________________

By:  Diane Benjamin

A special prosecutor has been appointed to investigate Council member Scott Preston’s travel expenses.  Why Jason Chambers spent money for an outside investigator doesn’t make sense.  It was only because he was a former Normal Council member?  Either the numbers make sense of they don’t, somebody in Chamber’s office couldn’t do a little math?  Unless the investigation is much broader, it sounds like a 1 hour job to me!

There is a much bigger issue!

It looks like the Town of Normal just wrote checks to Preston without checking receipts or supporting documents!

How many other Council members did they write checks to because they submitted a claim?

If the Town wrote unsubstantiated checks to a Council member, what other payments aren’t they checking?

This is another lesson in government not caring about your money because they don’t have to.  Tax increases are easier than restrained spending.

What are the chances of your company writing you a check without proof that:

  1. The expense had a business purpose
  2. Receipts were submitted
  3. The total amount requested was verified

Zero?

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Comments

  1. Most companies do auditing of expenses but usually receipts are required for certain types of expenses. Additionally, situations where meal expenses are over a certain amount get looked at very closely and are only paid with copies of the detailed receipts.

    My expectation, whether with Tari Renner and his Aldermen in Bloomington, or with Chris Koos and the Council Members there, is that they are good stewards of taxpayer dollars. If you’re attending a conference and are spending an extra $100-200 a night to stay at a fancy Four Seasons Hotel or the like, move to a nearby hotel like the Holiday Inn or Hampton Inn and save the town $400-$800 over the duration of the conference. You won’t spend that much in taxi rides to go over and back for events.

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  2. I’m sure the same situation exists in Bloomington also……maybe someone should check it out. I wonder if the lunch receipts turned in were for “business” discussions, especially when there was only one person!

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  3. Looks like the People’s Republic of Normal has their very own Aaron Schock. Hopefully he won’t make it to congress.

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  4. There is so much to this story that stinks to high heaven. And yes, there are much bigger issues that we hopefully haven’t seen the end to any time soon. Watchdogs could dig for hours and hard telling what they’d come up with from this guy. This is so reminiscent of Aaron Schock. The Pantycrap also mentions that they’ve pulled travel records for the city of Bloomington and McLean County. We’ll see where that goes.

    Assuming the Pantycrap story is accurate (And I do know what happens to people who assume) Preston has taken at least five trips since the summer of 2014 at taxpayers expense:

    1. July 2014, Fly-in to Washington DC to meet with Aaron Schock (Imagine that!)
    2. November 2014 to Dallas
    3. March 2015 to Washington DC
    4. November 2015 to Nashville for the NLC Congress of Cities
    5. March 2016, location and conference not identified in Pantycrap.

    Why so many conferences? What were the conferences that he went to? The only one mentioned is the November 2015 one in Nashville for the NLC Congress of Cities. What’s he learning at these conferences? Anybody know anything about the NLC?

    Preston is associated with Tomorrow Enterprises, incorporated in 2014 in Texas and no longer active:

    https://www.corporationwiki.com/p/2ghsqu/scott-preston

    It appears to be a real estate investment firm somewhere in Texas thus his credentials on his resume of being a real estate developer.

    This also may account for his November 2014 trip to Dallas. Not sure what he’s doing now when he’s not traveling to conferences for the town of Normal.

    The other issue is the structure of the Normal Town Council. There are three Council members whose term is up in 2017: Preston, Gaines and McCarthy. Assuming all three run for reelection with a couple of challengers with an at large Council it may be difficult to get rid of him because voters vote for three and the top three vote getters gain a seat on Council. He says he’s running for reelection.

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