Controller Lamb demands debit card receipts, other documents from Ravenstahl

Pittsburgh Controller Michael Lamb this morning demanded that Mayor Luke Ravenstahl provide receipts and other documents pertaining to debit cards used by his security detail.

One of Mr. Ravenstahl's former bodyguards, Fred Crawford Jr., said in a Pittsburgh Post-Gazette story today that the mayor and public safety director knew that debit cards used by the security detail were linked to a non-governmental account at the Greater Pittsburgh Police Federal Credit Union and that the cards were used to avoid media scrutiny of certain expenditures.

Mr. Ravenstahl acknowledged use of debit cards by his security detail for official business, but he said he only recently learned that the cards were tied to a non-governmental account.

He denied that the cards were used to do an end-run around the open-records law.

Mr. Lamb, who is running for mayor, wrote in a letter to Mr. Ravenstahl this morning, "Please have each of your detail officers provide copies of all periodic statements and receipts related to the debit cards that they have been issued or for any related accounts. If those statements are no longer in their possession, please have them request copies of the statements from the issuing financial institution. These records should be delivered to the controller's office as soon as possible but certainly within the next ten days."

Mr. Lamb asked in addition that the officers detail any repayments made to them when and if they used the cards for personal expenses.

Mayoral spokeswoman Joanna Doven said the city does not have control of the records because the account isn't city-owned. She said the city has asked the credit union and FBI to turn over the documentation, but hasn't received it.

"The two (groups of ) people who have it will not give it to us," she said.

She said "it is the mayor's goal to have the information and to disclose it."

Ms. Doven said Mr. Lamb knows is "playing political games" because he knows the mayor doesn't have the information to disclose.

Nate Harper resigned as chief Wednesday amid a federal investigation believed to focus, in part, on police bureau spending practices.

Mr. Lamb said he's concerned partly because the expenses were "from bank accounts that have not been authorized by the city of Pittsburgh."

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Joe Smydo: or 412-263-1548. First Published February 22, 2013 4:30 PM


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