PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — He was accused of using a county-issued Jeep Cherokee to attend political events without compensating the taxpayers for the mileage driven.
On Wednesday, Allegheny County Executive Rich Fitzgerald sought to put the controversy to rest.
“I turned the car into the county manager, and I wrote a check for every mile that car ever drove over the last three years,” said Fitzgerald.
A check for $42,737.52 to be exact.
That’s 56 cents for every mile he’s put on the vehicle since becoming county executive, even though he says almost all of those 76,000 miles were to get to and from non-political events and on county business.
“Were my records 100 percent perfect? No. And I’m not going to keep 100 percent perfect records. It’s not worth it to spend time worrying about the records as opposed to worrying about growing this region and moving forward,” Fitzgerald said.
To do that, from now on, Fitzgerald says he’ll be using his car and paying for his own gas, because he says he doesn’t need the distraction, and not because he agrees with the finding of Controller Chelsa Wagner who last week accused him of improper use of county resources.
KDKA’s Andy Sheehan: “Was this a legitimate criticism by the controller or was it politics.”
Fitzgerald: “I think it was politics.”
Wagner was returning from Harrisburg Wednesday, but spoke to KDKA by phone at a Turnpike rest stop.
“I am pleased that the executive agrees with the audit findings. I see his action today as clearly demonstrating that,” she said. “I think the bottom line is that taxpayer resources can never be used for political activities.”
But Fitzgerald says it all just politics, and rather than get mired in it, he’ll write a check, drive his own car and get on with county business.
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