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Candidate: Some County Commissioners Abused Cell Phones

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RALEIGH — Cell phones are convenient, but a Wake County candidate says they are too convenient for county commissioners.

Ray Paquette, a Republican candidate for Wake County Commissioner, is accusing several current commissioners of abusing their county-issued cellular phones. He says they made personal calls at the taxpayers' expense.

"If you're not accountable for your own use of taxpayer dollars, how can anyone believe you're going to be accountable for the hundreds of millions of taxpayers' dollars that you're responsible for overseeing," Paquette says.

Betty Mangum is one of the commissioners at whom Paquette is pointing the finger. He says her usage, 1,400 minutes in one month and 1,600 minutes in another month, is suspicious.

Since receiving the phone in January 1999, Mangum has made two reimbursements totaling $154.03 to the county for personal calls.

"I'm really upset that someone would question my integrity," she says. "I always brought the checks and paid in full. I have never misused the county property. I would never do that."

County manager David Cooke has asked the commissioners to review all their past bills and make restitution for personal calls.

"If they're used for private purposes, they need to reimburse the county," he says.

"Anytime you get an assertion or allegation from the public about using resources, we have to make sure that the public is confident we're using resources appropriately," Cooke says.

Betty Lou Ward, the chairwoman of theWake County Board of Commissioners, gave a check to the county Friday for $42.69 for personal calls.

She says she had made calls to her son and overlooked them. She apologizes for the oversight.

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Amanda Lamb, Reporter
Gil Hollingsworth, Photographer
Brian Shrader, Web Editor

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