Legislators question use of slush fund - ABC 33/40 - Birmingham News, Weather, Sports

Legislators question use of slush fund

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Questions are swirling among Jefferson County legislators over delegation's so-called slush fund.

The fund, which Rep. Allen Farley (R-McCalla) says has $1.5 million in it, is made up of funds collected when people buy pistol permits. Farley says he's heard the money has been used to pay for offices legislators don't use as well as used to support personnel he didn't even know existed. He says, for years, he's been looking for ways to help the cash-strapped County. Farley says asked about funding sources several times.

"What can we do to help Jefferson County? Nobody's ever mentioned, 'Oh, by the way, we have a fund,'" Farley says.

Rep. Patricia Todd (D-Birmingham) agrees. Todd says she's heard that some money helps with personnel, but she's not sure how it breaks down.

"There are big chunks of money, every month, going to Jefferson County," Todd says. "$5,000, $10,000. But there's no accounting for what is included."

Todd and Farley says they've asked legislators, including the chair Rep. Paul DeMarco (R-Homewood) about the slush fund. They say he told them he's asked for an audit. ABC 33/40 asked DeMarco  about that audit and the speculation Monday.

"Once we know and have a complete understanding from an auditor, who can put paper to pen, not just speculate. There's a lot of hearsay and speculation. Let's know exactly and make sure."

That audit will date back to 2008. But Todd and Farley say it still won't outline everything.

"It's really just a financial statement. It doesn't tell us disbursements," Todd says. "All we're asking for is transparency. I'm not accusing anybody of doing anything. It may have all been done properly and to the letter."

Todd and Farley say if they don't get all the specific information that they're after, they will file for a formal investigation into the slush fund. A state auditor is expected to release the audit Friday.

"I'm serious about going back and seeing how this money was spent. That's fine because we owe that to the public," Farley says.