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Government and Politics

Citizen wants Ohio to investigate Beachwood's spending
Anonymous letter to Ohio's auditor criticizes the mayor's expenses; the mayor says they're justified

Kevin Niedermier
Beachwood Mayor Merle Gorden.
Courtesy of City of Beachwood
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An anonymous letter is asking the state auditor to investigate the spending practices of Beachwood Mayor Merle Gorden.

The seven-page letter is signed “Concerned Taxpayers.”  It questions the mayor’s use of his city-owned car, vacation time and reimbursements of $18,000 over three years for meals with city employees and business leaders.

The items are all part of the compensation package the financially successful city offers Gorden. He makes nearly $200,000 a year, and is the highest paid mayor in the state.

Auditor’s office spokeswoman Carrie Bartunek says the department is conducting its regular audit of Beachwood’s books, and the letter received last week is being considered.

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““We’ve shared the letter and tip with the auditors who are currently working there anyway. They’ll determine if they want to review it with that audit work, or take a different direction. That decision hasn’t been made yet since we just received the letter.”

Bartunek says it’s not unusual for the auditor’s office to get tips through its internet and phone hotlines about possible fraud. Mayor Gorden has not been accused of any financial wrong-doing. But recently, he has been criticized for what some residents call lavish spending.

In a written statement, Gorden says Beachwood pays for business meals because it removes business owners from any suggestion of impropriety. He says the public has access to his expense reports, but he would support a new city policy if it would improve transparency. 

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