ELDRIDGE, Iowa — Former Eldridge City Clerk Denise Benson spent over $84,500 of city money on personal expenses, according to a state audit released by Iowa State Auditor Rob Sand.
The report looked at financial transactions from January 2017 to October 2022. It includes a laundry list of personal items allegedly bought by Benson, who began working as Eldridge City Clerk in 2003.
The audit identified $76,171 of improper payments and $8,718 of unsupported payments.
Benson purchased more than $42,000 of personal items on the city's credit card. This includes more than $29,000 in Amazon purchases for items such as men's underwear, children's toys and Hillary Clinton toilet paper.
There is also nearly $2,000 of PayPal purchases including artwork and items at Bass Pro Shops, and more than $32,000 of purchases to other businesses using the city's bank account.
The list doesn't stop there. Benson allegedly purchased gas for her personal vehicle using the city's credit card 10 different times.
She also billed herself for 30 hours of work for a meeting that should have only been recorded as one hour, according to city officials.
Sand says cities can do more to prevent these situations.
"If one person has the keys to the kingdom and they're in charge of everything, then you're giving them a big opportunity, because you have no checks and balances," Sand said. "In this situation in Eldridge, the clerk was not only the person who held the credit card, but she also received the credit card statements, and it was her job to look at the spending on the credit card statements and make sure everything was okay. You've got to have different people doing that so they can check against each other."
Benson was fired in October for allegedly misusing city funds. The Scott County Sheriff's Office opened an investigation, but have not filed charges yet.