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Audit: Fayetteville State University spent nearly $700,000 on improper credit card purchases

A new audit from State Auditor Jessica Holmes found improper spending at Fayetteville State University.
Courtesy of Fayetteville State University
A new audit from State Auditor Jessica Holmes found improper spending at Fayetteville State University.

Fayetteville State University is adding oversight after a state auditor's report found nearly $700,000 in improper credit card purchases.

The purchases by the university's Office of Strategic Communication included what the audit said were improper travel expenses, such as using university funds to visit a spa and arriving at a New York City conference two days early. Staffers also spent
$5,395 on hotel stays for trips within 35 miles of the campus, and they used travel purchasing cards to spend $71,792 on consultants and $1,276 for purchases made through CashApp.

State Auditor Jessica Holmes also found the communications office made $165,000 in payments to four different businesses owned by its employees. "The former employees did not disclose the businesses in which they had a financial interest," the report said.

Holmes' report said her findings have been sent to the State Bureau of Investigation for possible criminal charges.

The university said it's hiring new internal auditors and training employees about its financial policies. It said the employees responsible no longer work for FSU.

Chancellor Darrell Allison called the audit findings "egregious and disturbing."

"We have taken intentional steps to ensure that such violations do not occur again," he wrote in a written response to the audit report.

Holmes praised the university leaders' cooperation in a news release. "FSU’s leadership has been forthcoming, collaborative, and solutions-oriented throughout this process,” she said. “We appreciate their assistance in helping us identify and work together to address these issues and strengthen their internal protocols.”

The former associate vice chancellor referenced in the audit report, Joy Cook, was hired earlier this month by the N.C. Democratic Party's House Caucus as its new communications director. She resigned from that role last week, days before the audit was released.

"We hired Joy Cook off of her merit and over 20 years of nationally recognized communication experience," House Democratic Caucus Executive Director Amanda Eubanks said in an emailed statement. "Our hiring process is extremely competitive, and her references went through a thorough review and vetting process of which Ms. Cook had exemplary reviews. She has resigned her position, and the House Democratic Caucus is focused on more pressing issues such as funding education and the attack on DEI, which impacts many North Carolinians."

Colin Campbell covers politics for WUNC as the station's capitol bureau chief.