A-4461, SEPTEMBER 5, 1924, 4 COMP. GEN. 271

A-4461: Sep 5, 1924

Additional Materials:

Contact:

Edda Emmanuelli Perez
(202) 512-2853
EmmanuelliPerezE@gao.gov

 

Office of Public Affairs
(202) 512-4800
youngc1@gao.gov

PAYMENT FROM PUBLIC FUNDS FOR SUCH HIRE IS NOT AUTHORIZED. IT APPEARS THAT THE HIRING WAS FROM HIS MINOR SON. WHOSE AGE AT THE TIME IS STATED TO HAVE BEEN 17 YEARS 9 MONTHS. AGENT FIELDS FURNISHES AN AFFIDAVIT TO THE EFFECT THAT EMMETT FIELDS WAS THE SOLE OWNER OF THE AUTOMOBILE SO HIRED AND RECEIVED THE FULL BENEFIT OF THE HIRING AND THAT AFFIANT RECEIVED NONE. SUBSTANTIATION OF THE SON'S OWNERSHIP THERE IS FURNISHED A DUPLICATE REGISTRATION CERTIFICATE OF THE STATE OF KENTUCKY IN THE SONS'S NAME. THERE IS ALSO FURNISHED AN UNDATED PENCIL COPY OF A BILL OF SALE PURPORTING TO BEAR THE SIGNATURE OF THE MANAGER OF THE FRANKLIN MOTOR CO. WHETHER OR NOT OWNERSHIP OF THE CAR WAS IN THE SON AT TIME OF HIRING IS NOT OF PARAMOUNT IMPORTANCE AS THE PROPRIETY OF THE PAYMENT RESTS UPON THE CIRCUMSTANCES OF THE PAYMENT BEING TO A MINOR SON.

A-4461, SEPTEMBER 5, 1924, 4 COMP. GEN. 271

TRAVELING EXPENSES - AUTOMOBILE HIRE THE HIRE OF AN AUTOMOBILE BY A PROHIBITION ENFORCEMENT OFFICER FROM HIS MINOR SON, OR FROM THE MINOR SON OF ANOTHER OFFICER, RAISES A PRESUMPTION OF BENEFIT TO THE OFFICER BY INDIRECTLY AUGMENTING OFFICIAL COMPENSATION THROUGH PRIVATE TRANSACTIONS WITH THE GOVERNMENT, AND PAYMENT FROM PUBLIC FUNDS FOR SUCH HIRE IS NOT AUTHORIZED.

DECISION BY COMPTROLLER GENERAL MCCARL, SEPTEMBER 5, 1924:

SAM COLLINS, SPECIAL DISBURSING AGENT, INTERNAL REVENUE, BY LETTER DATED JULY 25, 1924, REQUESTS REVIEW OF SO MUCH OF SETTLEMENT C-10836 TI, DATED MAY 26, 1924, AS DISALLOWED THE FOLLOWING ITEMS COMPRISING REIMBURSEMENT TO NATIONAL PROHIBITION AGENTS FELIX G. FIELDS, W. C. WHITE, AND W. H. GREEN, REPRESENTING CHARGES FOR HIRE OF AUTOMOBILES FROM THE MINOR SONS OF AGENTS FIELDS AND GREEN:

VOUCHER 179, FELIX G. FIELDS, AUTO HIRE PAID TO EMMETT G. FIELDS, AUGUST 8, $6; AUGUST 9, $5; AUGUST 10, $5; AUGUST 11, $10; AUGUST 12, $6; TOTAL, $32.

VOUCHER 194, W. C. WHITE, AUTO HIRE PAID TO EMMETT G. FIELDS, AUGUST 9, $5; AUGUST 18, $15; TOTAL, $20.

VOUCHER 326, W. H. GREEN, AUTO HIRE PAID TO C. W. GREEN SEPTEMBER 16, $6; SEPTEMBER 18, $8; SEPTEMBER 20, $7; SEPTEMBER 29, $10; TOTAL, $31, ERRONEOUSLY DISALLOWED $33 BECAUSE SUBVOUCHER NO. 11 RECEIPTED FOR $8 INSTEAD OF $6.

CONCERNING REIMBURSEMENT TO FELIX G. FIELDS, IT APPEARS THAT THE HIRING WAS FROM HIS MINOR SON, WHOSE AGE AT THE TIME IS STATED TO HAVE BEEN 17 YEARS 9 MONTHS. AGENT FIELDS FURNISHES AN AFFIDAVIT TO THE EFFECT THAT EMMETT FIELDS WAS THE SOLE OWNER OF THE AUTOMOBILE SO HIRED AND RECEIVED THE FULL BENEFIT OF THE HIRING AND THAT AFFIANT RECEIVED NONE. SUBSTANTIATION OF THE SON'S OWNERSHIP THERE IS FURNISHED A DUPLICATE REGISTRATION CERTIFICATE OF THE STATE OF KENTUCKY IN THE SONS'S NAME, BUT BEARING THE SUBSEQUENT DATE OF DECEMBER 26, 1923, AND THERE IS ALSO FURNISHED AN UNDATED PENCIL COPY OF A BILL OF SALE PURPORTING TO BEAR THE SIGNATURE OF THE MANAGER OF THE FRANKLIN MOTOR CO., OF LEXINGTON, KY. WHETHER OR NOT OWNERSHIP OF THE CAR WAS IN THE SON AT TIME OF HIRING IS NOT OF PARAMOUNT IMPORTANCE AS THE PROPRIETY OF THE PAYMENT RESTS UPON THE CIRCUMSTANCES OF THE PAYMENT BEING TO A MINOR SON. AS A MINOR DEPENDENT MEMBER OF HIS HOUSEHOLD, WHICH THE PARENT PRESUMABLY MAINTAINS, IT IS NOT SEEN HOW A PAYMENT FOR HIRE OF THE SON'S CAR, UNDER SUCH CONDITIONS, CAN RESULT OTHERWISE THAN AS OF SOME BENEFIT TO THE PARENT. IT HAS BEEN HELD THAT PAYMENT UNDER SUCH CONDITIONS IS IN EFFECT REIMBURSEMENT TO THE FATHER FOR USE OF HIS OWN MACHINE.

UPON THE FACTS PRESENTED IT MUST BE HELD THAT THE DISALLOWANCE OF THE SUM OF $32 PAID AS REIMBURSEMENT TO AGENT FIELDS FOR THE AUTO HIRE IN QUESTION WAS CORRECT.

REIMBURSEMENT TO W. C. WHITE REPRESENTS AUTO HIRE PAID TO EMMETT G. FIELDS, AS MINOR SON OF A FELLOW OFFICER, AND THE RESULTANT CIRCUMSTANCES ARE AS TO ALL ESSENTIALS SUBSTANTIALLY AS SET FORTH IN THE CASE OF AGENT FIELDS. SUCH PRACTICE PERMITS PUBLIC MONEY TO BE SO PAID AS TO RESULT IN OBTAINING A BENEFICIAL CONTRIBUTION WHICH INDIRECTLY AUGMENTS OFFICIAL COMPENSATION THROUGH ACCOMPLISHING A PRIVATE TRANSACTION WITH THE GOVERNMENT WHILE AT THE SAME TIME REPRESENTING IT OFFICIALLY. SUCH TRANSACTIONS ARE CLEARLY INCOMPATIBLE WITH OFFICIAL DUTY AND NO PAYMENTS MAY BE ALLOWED FOR OBLIGATIONS THUS IMPOSED.

ACCORDINGLY THE DISALLOWANCE OF CREDIT FOR THE ITEM OF $20 PAID TO AGENT FIELD'S MINOR SON WAS ALSO CORRECT.

REIMBURSEMENT TO W. H. GREEN IS FOR HIRING AN AUTOMOBILE FROM HIS SON, C. W. GREEN. AN AFFIDAVIT BY C. W. GREEN ASSERTS THAT THE MACHINE USED WAS REGISTERED IN THE NAME OF W. H. GREEN, BUT NEVERTHELESS WAS PRESENTED TO HIM BY HIS FATHER SOME TIME PREVIOUS TO THE HIRING IN QUESTION. THE SON FURTHER SWEARS THAT W. H. GREEN RECEIVED NO BENEFIT FROM THE HIRE OF SAID CAR WHATEVER; THAT THE SON BECAME 21 YEARS OF AGE ON THE 11TH DAY OF JUNE, 1924, AND THAT HE SUPPORTS HIMSELF AND MAINTAINS THE CAR FROM HIS OWN RESOURCES.

THIS AFFIDAVIT WAS MADE JUNE 30, 1924, NEARLY A YEAR SUBSEQUENT TO DATE OF THE HIRING, AND DOES NOT EVEN PURPORT TO SHOW INDEPENDENT AND SEPARATE MAINTENANCE ON THE PART OF AFFIANT DURING THE PERIOD OF THE HIRING. THE SON MAY THEN HAVE BEEN EITHER ENTIRELY DEPENDENT, OR AT LEAST HAVE BEEN A MEMBER OF AND PARTIAL CONTRIBUTOR TO A HOUSEHOLD WHICH RECEIVED A JOINT BENEFIT FROM THE TOTAL CONTRIBUTIONS OF FATHER AND SON. FURTHER, THE MAINTENANCE OF THE CAR MAY HAVE DEPENDED UPON THIS CHARACTER OF HIRING. ON THE WHOLE, THE FACTS INDICATE A SIMILAR SITUATION AS TO THE ESSENTIAL CONDITIONS DISCUSSED IN THE CASE OF W. C. WHITE, SUPRA, IN THAT SUCH PRACTICE PERMITS OF AUGMENTING OFFICIAL COMPENSATION THROUGH PARTICIPATING IN PRIVATE TRANSACTIONS WITH THE GOVERNMENT. IT IS CONSIDERED THEREFORE THAT THE DISALLOWANCES AS TO $31 PAID BY W. H. GREEN TO HIS SON FOR HIRE HAS, UNDER THE CONDITIONS RECITED, CORRECT, BUT THE $2 INADVERTENTLY DISALLOWED WHICH IS DISCLOSED NOT TO HAVE BEEN CHARGED WILL NOW BE ADMITTED TO CREDIT.