The Office of Mayor Karl Dean circulated late Friday afternoon a copy of a letter sent to Mark Swann, the Metro director of internal audit, requesting an audit of the Davidson County Clerk's Office.
The letter (see below) comes on the heels of a WTVF NewsChannel 5 report, broadcast earlier this week, revealing that county clerk John Arriola has been conducting business in a questionable manner. For example, Channel 5 investigative reporter Phil Williams in the report describes the $40 Arriola typically collects to marry a couple as a "fee," and one that is not required. Also, the veteran reporter notes the "fee" is collected in cash only.
In contrast, Arriola refers to the collected money as a "gratuity," adding no records have been kept for cash received. Channel 5 said at the report's conclusion that Arriola will make clear in writing that, from this point, a gratuity will be accepted for his services and that any monies received will be donated to charity.
Following is a copy of Dean’s letter:
Dear Mr. Swann:
Over the past several days, news reports have raised serious questions about certain practices and operations of the Davidson County Clerk's Office. It is my position that anytime questions of this nature are raised, the Metropolitan Government has an obligation to the taxpayers and citizens of Nashville to thoughtfully and carefully look into the issues.
For that reason, I am asking that the office of Internal Audit, in coordination with the Department of Law, immediately initiate an audit of the County Clerk's Office.
Specifically, questions have arisen over certain contracts entered into by the County Clerk's Office, including those for public relations services, photographic services, and signs. In light of possible issues with those contracts, a thorough review of all contracts and the procurement processes used by the County Clerk's Office should be undertaken.
Finally, it is my understanding there is a significant amount of cash involved in the operation of the County Clerk's Office. It would be my request that this review also include an overall look at the office's cash management procedures.
I ask your office to conduct this review because of the important role it plays as an independent office with representatives of the administration, the legislative body and citizens of Nashville.
Karl F. Dean
cc: Mike Safley, Department of Law