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PREVIOUS COVERAGE | Brown reimburses county $1,800 for improper work by staff

BRADENTON — Manatee County Commissioner Gwen Brown said she has reimbursed the county $1,800 for copying and typing by employees not related to county business.

Brown, who has been a commissioner since winning the seat in 1998, said commission Chairwoman Donna Hayes asked the county administrator to look into Brown’s requests of the administrative office staff.

“The county did a review and their findings were that there were a couple of things that should not have occurred,” Brown said. “I have reimbursed the county for Xeroxing and typing, and apologized to the staff.”

Brown said when she asked the staff to do the work she was involved with several projects at one time.

“I had been doing so much with students and doing children summits and other things with parents,” she said.

Hayes was on vacation this week and could not be reached for comment.

County Administrator Ed Hunzeker said as far as he was concerned, the issue was resolved.

“Another commissioner brought it to my attention, I reviewed the matter, and it was resolved,” Hunzeker said.

He said when he approached Brown, she realized it was inappropriate and reimbursed the county for more than twice the amount it cost for the staff to perform the work.

Brown said she made the requests innocently.

“I’m not denying sometimes I’m really involved in stuff in the community,” she said, “and I ask for this or that as I’m running in and out.”

And she admitted not all the work involved commission business.

“They were things I used in my class, materials, I had them type up my syllabus,” Brown said. “Also made a copy of my first campaign report — that is definitely a no-no. It was not the one recently — it was in January or February.”

But she said much of the material the administrative staff worked on was not always work related to her role as a commissioner.

“When I’m out in the community people perceive you as a commissioner,” Brown said.

Asked why she thought the issue was closed, Brown said people will “try to make it more than it was.”

She made a point of taking the responsibility for her actions and apologizing for putting the staff in an awkward position.

“They’re very nice ladies,” Brown said.

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