DOVER, Del. (WBOC/AP)- Delaware's state treasurer has accepted the resignation of his top deputy following her repeated unauthorized use of a state credit card.
Treasurer Chip Flowers said Monday that he has accepted Erika Benner's request to be removed from her position as deputy state treasurer.
The News-Journal of Wilmington reported over the weekend that Benner had racked up thousands of dollars in personal expenses on her state-issued credit card, including more than $1,000 for football tickets and private car service to a New England Patriots game.
"It's not the amount of money," said Flowers. "It's the fact that it happened. That's what people need to know. We are not going to tolerate it in this administration. It's going to be addressed."
Officials said Benner ultimately reimbursed the state for all charges.
Benner said in a letter to Flowers on Monday that she accepted full responsibility, and she apologized for decisions she made during what she said was a very difficult time in her life. She also wrote, "I do not wish to serve as a distraction to the integral work of the Treasury and the accomplishments of your administration in fighting for the principles that inspired me to public service – excellence, honor and ideas that can improve the lives of people."
"We are working vigorously to make sure it never happens again," Flowers said.
Benner had been with Treasury since Flowers took office in 2011.
"I think it's fair to say that prior to this incident there was no reason to believe this would ever happen," he said.
She has been on disability since June. Reports say Benner blamed the charges on a "medical disease."
People around Dover didn't question that she was no longer with Treasury but did question how she left.
"She should have been fired instead of resigning, because it's stealing. It's our money," said Marilyn Fowler.
"I definitely think she should have been fired instead of resigning. It was an easy way out for her," Crissy Burgos said.
WBOC put the question to Flowers. Should she have been fired instead?
"This is a situation where we don't pass judgement on anyone," he said. "We are in the process of reviewing all the facts. I thought it was appropriate in that she took full responsibility for her actions, and she requested to be removed.
"She is still out on disability. There are certain legal rights we have to be protective of. This is a personnel matter. We can't completely discuss the matters of the case. But I can assure you she will not be around any sort of taxpayer funds from this point forward."
Flowers says a number of changes are coming in the wake of all this. He wants to make sure all unauthorized, personal purchase hit his desk, reduce the number of credit cards Treasury uses and implement better practices for the ones it does.
Other agencies - police, the Justice Department - are responsible for determining if there should be criminal charges here. The Attorney General's office wouldn't comment on if there is an investigation.
Gov. Markell's office had no comment on the situation. The treasurer is separately elected from the governor in Delaware.
Flowers says no decision has been made yet on a replacement for Benner.
Wednesday, July 23 2014 3:49 PM EDT2014-07-23 19:49:09 GMT
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