The Chairman of the Johnston County Board of Commissioners has apologized for releasing sensitive financial information, including bank account numbers, from the Johnston County Board of Education.
Chairman Tony Braswell said he should have redacted certain information before posting the information on social media on Tuesday. The information was later removed.
Braswell is challenging the Chairman of the Board of Education, Larry Strickland, in the Republican primary on Tuesday for the NC House District 28 seat.
“(I’m) not making excuses or any justification. I have been inundated with negative ads in mailers and from a Super PAC concerning untruths about 20 million dollars returned to the county. I got caught up in the emotions of the issue and I felt it necessary to defend the honor of the commissioners and show the money had been there a long time. I just did it the wrong way.”
The Board of Education said they were forced to shut down three bank accounts after the account numbers were posted online by a candidate, although they did not specifically name Braswell.
“Upon learning of the posting, it was of great concern to the Board of Education that the publication of these financial documents could be used in a fraudulent manner and put the school system at risk of being victims of financial fraud,” according to a statement released by school board chairman Strickland. |
“The Board of Education immediately moved to secure these accounts to prevent any financial fraud from occurring and the accounts were being closed to prevent any improper or illegal actions from being taken. On the advice of law enforcement agencies, the funds in these accounts are being transferred to new accounts with a different financial institution. The Board of Education is taking this action to keep the school system’s financial health and the County’s tax dollars from being placed in jeopardy and the school system from being a victim of financial fraud.”
$20 Million Issue Centerpiece Of NC House Race
The $20 million issue was first reported by WTSB News on February 15th. DeVan Barbour, Vice Chairman of the Board of Commissioners, said the school system had $40 million in savings when they asked the county for a $30 million loan to cover cost overruns at two high schools under construction. Barbour said the school system was forced to admit the money was held in a secret bank account. After its discovery by the county, the school system returned half of the money.
Strickland’s campaign said they returned the money to prevent county commissioners from having to raise property taxes. Braswell and Barbour have refuted Strickland’s claims, and said the money belonged to the taxpayers of Johnston County, and not the school system. Even if the money had not been returned, Braswell said it would have not prompted a tax increase.
“The real truth about this money is documented in a WTSB news story a month ago by Vice Chairman Devan Barbour,” Braswell said.
“It still amazes me that none of the board of education members have not come forward and set the record straight,” Braswell continued in a statement released to WTSB on Friday. ” In 2010, the commissioners did not make a big deal out of this. There was not a need to throw anyone under the bus. Never in a million years would I of dream six years later it would have been used against us. Again I apologize, but it is never too late to do the right thing.”
The multi-million dollar school bank account has also raised questions as to why teacher supplements were not increased. School leaders said at the time they did not have adequate funding to raise teachers pay.