TOPEKA, (KSNT)— An elected Kansas county official, who received tens of thousands of dollars in federal relief money during the pandemic, was asked if she’d pay the money back at a county meeting on Thursday.
Sherman County Commissioner Rod Blake led a session of questioning at a Board meeting. Blake asked County Clerk Ashley Mannis, who split more than $67,000 in leftover federal relief money with her deputy, if she has the “intention” of paying the money back. Blake also asked if Mannis felt that she should “continue to serve.”
“If I’ve been found of no wrongdoing… and I haven’t done anything wrong…and it was an innocent mistake… I guess I don’t understand,” Mannis replied.
Kansas Capitol Bureau first broke the story of Mannis and Sherman County Deputy Clerk, Maria Parish, receiving a combined total of $67,109.18. for administering Coronavirus Relief Funds (CRF) between 2020 and 2021. The money was received through payroll, and paid on top of their paychecks. Three lump sums adding up to more than $56,000 were paid in just 2021 alone.
Commissioners say that Mannis and her deputy were put in charge of how the money was dispersed after contracted workers from a private firm fell through. The state’s Office of Recovery (RO) ordered the county to pay the money back, which county leaders have attributed to the money being paid through “payroll.”
Blake said that they contacted the RO immediately, and that the “funds were paid back.” Sherman County leaders are now determining how they’ll recover the loss. Blake asked Mannis if she has the “intention” of paying the funds back, to which she replied “yes.” Mannis also said “yes” when asked if her deputy will pay the money back.
However, the timeline of when the money will be recovered is still unclear. The County Attorney has been directed to look into how the money can be recovered, but the Commission is still waiting to hear back. Kansas Capitol Bureau also broke that the FBI is investigating the situation. In the meeting Thursday, Commissioner Rod Blake said that it hasn’t been wrapped up yet.
“There’s a lot of things that I can’t get into, and I’m not going to, because, until I’m told otherwise, this is still an ongoing, active investigation,” Blake said.