CARSON CITY (AP) — A wild horse group that receives money from special Nevada license plates kept sloppy records of their expenses and in some cases fabricated spending to balance its books, legislative auditors said.
The Las Vegas Sun reports the group Horse Power couldn’t show that all its money was spent solely for the benefit of wild mustangs and burros.
But a Horse Power executive told the Legislative Commission on Special License Plates there was no ill intent or willful disregard for record keeping procedures.
Auditor Rocky Cooper agreed, saying, “There was no evidence of improper practices.”
Executive Director Sally Summers said Horse Power is a nonprofit comprised mostly of volunteers and had a turnover of officers in 2010.
She called the reading of the audit report Monday to the legislative commission “an embarrassing moment” and said the group has hired a bookkeeper and is working to strengthen its internal controls.
Auditors said that amounts “were fabricated in order for the balance sheet to balance,” and that in several instances, “Horse Power was unable to provide evidence that it followed its methods and procedures to ensure expenditures for the benefit of the intended recipient.”
For example, the audit said Horse Power could not produce records from its board of directors that $32,000 was allocated to local organizations for food, medicine, transportation and other services for wild horses.
Under Nevada’s special license plate law, a motorist spends an extra $61 on the first request for the license plate. Of that, $25 goes to the cause. Upon renewal, the extra charge is $30 with $20 going to the sponsoring group.
The state Department of Motor Vehicles said $93,503 went to Horse Power in fiscal 2010. The latest count of Horse Power plates is 4,702.
The wild horse license plate depicts a rearing mustang with the words “wild and free” across the bottom.
Horse Power has 20 days to ask the commission for a hearing to argue that its money from special license plates should not be suspended. The legislative panel has 30 days after that to schedule a hearing.