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Special Prosecutor To Look At Normal Council Member Travel Expenses

Ralph Weisheit

A special prosecutor has been appointed to look into travel expenses filed by a member of the Normal Town Council.

McLean County State's Attorney Jason Chambers declined to look into the matter, citing his previous service on the Council as a barrier and forwarded  the issue to the Appellate Prosecutor's office.

The Town of Normal, in a news release indicates an audit showed council member Scott Preston did not have major violations of previous travel reimbursement policies, but that Preston did not submit adequately detailed receipts in several instances.

The Town said in a news release the referral to legal authorities is to "be on the safe side." The inquiry began after an apparent double billing for travel to the national League of Cities Conference in March.

Preston has since reimbursed the Town 616 dollars.

"That's right around three and a half percent-ish of the total cumulative travel expenses since I have been on council. They were clearly inadvertent mistakes and as soon as I found out about them, I immediately went in and corrected them," said Preston.

Preston said this is a difficult way to learn a straightforward lesson.

"My record keeping, I wish it had been more diligent and I had been more attentive to it. In some cases I wish I would have had a little better judgment as to make sure I had gone through receipts before just automatically turning things in," said Preston.

The town last month tightened its travel reimbursement policies to include better record keeping, attendance requirements, and lists of guests at meals paid for by taxpayers.

The Pantagraph newspaper is reporting in a lengthy that Preston has a history of submitting incomplete receipts, ordering room service and expensive meals, and spending more than necessary in representing the Town.

The Pantagraph also reports Preston has gone to conferences late and still received reimbursements.

Preston's term is up in April. He won election to his first term in 2013 at the age of 25.  He first ran as an ISU student four years earlier. Preston said he is running for a second term.

Hear Preston's explanation.

WGLT Senior Reporter Charlie Schlenker has spent more than three award-winning decades in radio. He lives in Normal with his family.
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