Washtenaw Board Per-Diem Report Released

The controversy over possible inappropriate per-diem spending by Washtenaw County commissioner Mark Ouimet, which emerged during public commentary at the board of commissioners’ Oct. 6 meeting, grew more heated at the board’s Oct. 20 session, as several speakers during public commentary – as well as some fellow commissioners – came to his defense. County GOP leaders Mark Boonstra and Wyckham Seelig accused the Democratic board majority of partisan politics, and said they’ve launched their own investigation into commissioner spending, specifically citing out-of-state travel by Kristin Judge. Ouimet, a Republican running for state representative in District 52, has been accused of claiming per-diem expenses to which he wasn’t entitled.

County clerk Larry Kestenbaum, a Democrat, released a report prior to Wednesday’s board meeting that analyzed per-diem and mileage expenses for all commissioners, dating back to 2005. Ouimet claimed the most expenses by far – $32,804. Of Ouimet’s claims, $10,564 was analyzed by Kestenbaum as ineligible, and another $6,055 was uncertain, which means that about half of Ouimet’s claims are problematic. Kestenbaum spoke during public commentary, saying that he considered all the commissioners to be his friends and great public servants – the report was not intended to be an attack. On Wednesday, Ouimet offered to put the disputed amount in escrow until all of the claims have been reviewed. Judge contended that all of her out-of-state travel has yielded tangible benefits to constituents. [The Chronicle converted the county clerk's Excel workbook with multiple tabs, one for each commissioner, to a single .pdf file.]

This brief was filed shortly after the board meeting adjourned. A detailed report will follow: [link]