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Lawmaker Calls For Audit Of Governor’s Energy Office

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(credit: CBS)

(credit: CBS)

DENVER (CBS4)- A state lawmaker is calling for an audit of the Governor’s Energy Office. The action comes after $9 million in taxpayer money couldn’t be accounted for.

There are also allegations of questionable spending by the agency.

“When you see all these red flags you start digging deeper,” said Rep. Cindy Acree.

The Republican Legislative Audit Committee Vice Chair said it took an Open Records request to get the agency to turnover their expenses.

Acree said what she found detailed on a spreadsheet hundreds of pages long alarmed her.

Over the past three years the agency has spent nearly $52,000 on cell phone bills, $455,000 on travel to places like London, Tokyo and Hawaii. And $9 million was unaccounted for.

“Some of this I’m really skeptical about,” said Acree when referring to $13,000 for rent and storage at a high rise and thousands of dollars for lobbyists, churches and a Democratic Caucus luncheon.

Governor’s Energy Office spokeswoman Denise Stepto said the expenditures in question happened under a different director. She said a third of the staff has turned over since those items were recorded. Stepto also said the agency has changed travel and cell phone policies.

“When something like this comes to you, you realize there might be other things you don’t know about and the perception may be that we may be hiding something,” said Stepto.

That’s why Acree has asked the state to investigate.

“I think the bottom line is we need an audit to uncover everything that office is doing,” said Acree.

She is also asking Colorado’s congressional delegation to launch a federal investigation.

In a statement, Tom Plant, the former director of the Governor’s Energy Office said, “There are not missing funds. All funds, revenues and expenditures can be fully accounted for.”

The agency received $120 million in 2010, much of it state and federal tax dollars.

The Governor’s Energy Office said it welcomes an audit and plans to request one itself. The audit could take up to a year and could cost $100,000.

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