SOUTHAVEN — The board of directors of the Southaven Chamber of Commerce has released a report after conducting a review of its books and records dating back to Jan. 1, 2004. The board said it sought determine the facts behind reports that the Chamber paid Capital One for the expenses of Southaven Mayor Greg Davis.
The purpose of the report is to state those facts, and is also a follow-up of the Chamber’s Feb. 13, 2012, release of the six reports of its outside auditors for the fiscal years ending Sept. 30, 2004 through Sept. 30, 2009.
The report states: “As the Chamber’s board announced in its release on Feb. 23, 2012, the only proper course of action is to publicly state what it has learned regarding these allegations and to release any relevant documents. In the course of its ongoing review, the Chamber has undertaken and will continue to voluntarily cooperate with the appropriate authorities and agencies. Finally, it is hoped that this report might help to avoid speculation and inaccuracies that sometimes go hand-in-hand with reports about public officials and highly publicized events.
“Based upon the Chamber’s review to date, the following is a summary of the facts that are currently known:
• Prior to October 2010, the Chamber received invoices from the Mayor’s Office. The invoices were received almost every month.
• The invoices were from February 2004 through September 2010.
• The invoices stated that they were for services in ‘promoting the City of Southaven.’
• The invoices directed that payment be made by ‘check payable to Capital One.’
• The Chamber paid each of those invoices.
• Each check was made payable to Capital One and was delivered to the Mayor’s Office.
• The funds used to pay those invoices came from the city.
• In 2010, the Chamber’s outside auditors asked the Chamber to obtain documentation to support the payment of the invoices.
• In 2010, the Chamber requested that documentation from the Mayor’s Office, but the Chamber did not receive all of the documentation that it requested.
• The Sept. 16, 2010, invoice (which was paid on Sept. 30, 2010) was the last Capital One invoice that the Chamber received from the Mayor’s Office.
• Since October 2010, the Chamber has not received any invoices that request payment to Capital One or to Mayor Davis.
• Since October 2010, the Chamber has not made any payments or issued any checks payable to Capital One or to Mayor Davis.
“For many years the Chamber has received financial assistance from the city. This annual financial assistance has also grown – from $30,000 to over $100,000 today. In addition to its annual contributions, the city has provided the Chamber with rent-free office space, which has been valued at $21,600 annually. This fact is mentioned in the reports of the Chamber’s outside auditors, as well as the Chamber’s Form 990 tax returns. The funds provided by the city to the Chamber are in addition to the money that the Chamber receives from its members in the form of annual membership fees and from its other activities.
“The Chamber’s board of directors is made up of 13 individuals. Each is a volunteer, who serves without pay. Since 2004, more than 40 individuals have served on the Chamber’s board. In fact, of the current 13 board members, only eight of them were on the board in 2010 when the Chamber’s outside auditors first raised the question about supporting documentation for the payments to Capital One. The Chamber’s board followed the advice of its outside auditors and requested additional supporting documentation. When that documentation was received, the Chamber provided it to its outside auditors for review. The Chamber’s outside auditors advised that even more documentation was needed. Again, the Chamber followed the advice of its auditors and requested documentation from the city. The Chamber received no further documentation. Since Oct. 1, 2010, the Chamber has not received any requests for payment to Capital One or to Mayor Davis.
“Prior to Oct. 1, 2010 the Chamber did issue checks payable to Capital One. These checks were issued against invoices received from the Mayor’s Office. Each invoice stated that payment was requested for ‘services provided in promoting the City of Southaven’ and requested that the check be made ‘payable to Capital One.’ The invoices generally described the services provided as: City Business Relations/Promotions, Staff Development, Legislative Relations, Travel & Training.
“Some of the 2004 and 2005 invoices described additional services, such as airline tickets, dinner, entertainment, conference, IT Conf Chicago, Washington, D.C., trip, Mall executives entertainment, entertainment, municipal party and gifts, Munis Conference, and trips and expenses associated with meetings.
“As stated earlier in this report, questions concerning these Capital One invoices were first raised in 2010 by the Chamber’s outside auditors, who stated that there was not enough documentation to support the payments to Capital One. Based on what it was told by its outside auditors, the Chamber requested additional documentation from the Mayor’s Office. Additional documentation was provided for three invoices, which are dated July 22, 2010, August 22, 2010, and September 16, 2010. The amount of each of those invoices is $4,246.59, $3,031.92 and $5,400.52, respectively. The additional documentation for those three invoices consisted of portions of the Capital One credit card statement of Charles G. Davis; the statement lists a specific credit card account number. At the request of its outside auditors, the Chamber requested further supporting documentation from the Mayor’s Office. The Chamber did not receive any documentation in response to its request. After its second request the Chamber stopped receiving monthly invoices from the Mayor’s Office.
“Included in the payments to Capital One is a 2004 payment of $2,028.87. That payment was based on a July 28, 2004, invoice from the city. Attached to that invoice was part of a Capital One Miles One World MasterCard statement. This Capital One statement does not identify the name of the cardholder, and the account number is different from the 2010 Capital One account number of Charles G. Davis.
“Based on its review and as stated above, since its payment to Capital One of the Sept. 16, 2010 invoice, the Chamber has not made any payment to or issued any check payable to Capital One or to Mayor Davis.
“Based upon its review, the Chamber has determined that for the six year and nine month period (from Jan. 1, 2004, through Sept. 30, 2010), the Chamber issued 73 checks payable to Capital One. The checks were delivered to the Mayor’s Office. The total amount of those 73 checks is $207,198. The funds for these checks came from the funds contributed to the Chamber by the city.
“The Chamber did not limit its review to checks that were made payable to Capital One. The review included all Chamber checks for the eight-year period from January 2004 through December 2011. During the course of its review, it has been determined that the Chamber paid $100 on behalf of Mayor Davis and his wife to attend the Southaven Rotary Club’s annual dinner in June 2004. The Chamber contributed $30 to the Southaven Mayor and Alderman Fund on May 6, 2004. Additionally, the Chamber paid the following expenses in 2004: ACYPL expenses in the amount of $1,000 for Charles Davis; a $1,043.28 invoice from First Choice Catering for Mayor Davis; a $1,707.96 invoice from Bonne Terre for Mayor Davis; and, a check payable to Greg Davis for $200. There appear to have been no such payments after 2004.
“The Chamber has received requests for documents from three members, each of which is also a media outlet. It has been stated that the Chamber has, since early January 2012, refused to turn over documents that were requested. That is not the case. Mississippi law, which governs member requests for Chamber financial records, is very specific. While there were legitimate questions concerning whether one request satisfied those requirements, the fact is that the request was revised to satisfy those requirements. The Chamber wants to be as thorough and accurate as possible and hopes that that will not be viewed as a refusal or as delay. On Feb. 13, 2012, the Chamber released the reports for its outside auditors for its 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008 and 2009 fiscal years — a fiscal year that ends on Sept. 30.
“It has been suggested that Mayor Davis received a credit card from the Chamber or was allowed to use a Chamber credit card. The Chamber’s review has found nothing to support such a suggestion.
“The review, which the Chamber has undertaken and which serves as the basis for this report, is not finished. It will continue. To the extent that additional facts are found and which bear upon matters contained in this report, those facts (after they are confirmed, and re-confirmed, to be accurate) will be disclosed — first to the appropriate authorities and agencies and then to membership of the Chamber and the general public through the media.
“The Chamber’s outside auditors are currently reviewing the Chamber’s books and records covering the Chamber’s 2009/2010 and the 2010/2011 fiscal years. The reports of the Chamber’s outside auditors are expected to be received in May 2012. Those reports will also be disclosed.
“If the Chamber’s outside auditors make any recommendations, the Chamber will follow them – just as it always has. And, the Chamber will continue to utilize and rely upon the advice of its outside auditors, as well as its other outside advisors, on ways and methods to improve its systems and the manner in which it conducts its business.
“The Chamber wishes to point out that the four Capital One credit card statements have been modified to delete certain information, specifically, the credit limit, the cash limit, the balance, the amount of the last payment, etc. That information has no bearing on what the Chamber paid and to whom those payments were made and has, for that reason and that reason alone, been deleted.
“The documents related to the payments referred to in this report are being made available to the Chamber’s membership and to media for general distribution for a fee (as permitted by Mississippi law) of $20 per set.