Audit request follows allegations of incompetence and wrongdoing within the city’s finance department
SHREVEPORT, La. (KTAL/KMSS) – Councilman John Nickelson said he was removed as chairman of the Shreveport City Council Audit and Finance Committee less than an hour after requesting a legislative audit of city finances.
Dist. C’s representative made the request Thursday morning following allegations of problems with the city’s accounting department made by the city’s recently fired comptroller.
“Last month, the city’s acting chief financial officer unceremoniously fired City Comptroller Ben Hebert without notifying all members of Council,” Nickelson said in a letter to Louisiana Legislative Auditor Michael Wavepack.
“Mr. Hebert, a Chartered Accountant and Certified Fraud Examiner, has made a wide range of allegations regarding incompetence and wrongdoing within the Finance Department. These allegations from a former senior executive of the City are serious and call into question the ministry’s ability to administer public funds and require a full, fair and transparent investigation that only your office can provide.
Along with the letter, Nickelson attached Hebert’s opening statement at Monday’s press conference where he and attorney Allison Jones outlined the allegations and claimed his firing was in retaliation.
Herbert said he found major issues within the city of Shreveport’s accounting department when he took over as comptroller in January 2020. While some of those issues were resolved when he became comptroller in January 2020, the other two persisted. Among the ongoing issues, Hebert raised questions about Mayor Adrian Perkins’ travel expense claim.
Hebert said when he brought these issues to the attention of the city’s current chief financial officer, Kasey Brown, he was fired.
Jones said they would file age and race discrimination complaints with the Employment Equality Commission, as well as whistleblower complaints with the Human Rights Commission of Louisiana.
The mayor’s office declined to comment on the allegations, citing ongoing litigation.
Thursday afternoon, Nickelson shared a post on his public Facebook page saying he was removed as chairman of the Audit and Finance Committee exactly 33 minutes later by City Council Speaker James Green, who was copied to the letter. It was a position Nickelson notes he held for three years.
“I love Shreveport,” Nickelson said in the post. “I have given 110% to my constituents and to our city since I was elected in 2018. But loving Shreveport is not enough. We must all fight for Shreveport – and we must do everything in our power to ensure that eight smart, capable and honest people are elected to lead the city in the fall 2022 election. depends.”