The mayor of a Texas town and the mayor pro-tem announced their resignations after they were accused of spending over $1,000 in the city funds to attend Michelle Obama’s book tour.
Mayor Lyndia Thomas and pro-tem Beckie Hayes reportedly resigned on Wednesday just before a scheduled vote accusing the two of misconduct and misuse of funds after they were allegedly reimbursed for tickets to Michelle Obama’s sold-out Becoming book tour.
“I will not leave my fate in the hands of other individuals,” Hayes told WFAA 8. “I am a woman of integrity, and the allegations, they have no substance. They are false.”
Hayes did acknowledge that she purchased two $540 tickets for the Michelle Obama event for herself and the mayor and filed for reimbursement from the city’s public relations fund. The expense was reportedly approved by the city manager, and Hayes received a check. She later paid back the money when there was criticism, but she said they had done nothing wrong.
“It doesn’t specify what we can do and where we can go,” she said. “But it’s set aside for us to go and learn and get involved.”
The purchase was reportedly brought to light by a citizen’s audit committee, which also flagged other expenses that they said were “questionable, either lacking in documentation or approval from council.”
“[The Obama event] had nothing to do with city business at all,” former councilmember Michielle Benson told WFAA. “Public relations is supposed to make our city shine. That is not it.”
“I feel like they took my money!” said Leslie Jasperson, a resident who served on the committee.
Jasperson has an accounting certification and was prepared to present evidence she collected at the meeting, but following the resignations that was unnecessary.
Both Hayes and Thomas believe they are being targeted for political reasons, and they both said they will now run for city council again. The next election will be in May.
“We don’t get a salary, but we are entitled to be reimbursed for our expenses,” Thomas said. “We are not trying to hide anything.”