An anonymous email from “SpaceCoastWatchDog” was sent to each County Commissioner, the County Manager, and the County Attorney with the results of a public records request for each Commissioner’s purchasing card (p-card) history.
The results yielded an incredible amount of disproportionate, odd purchases by Commissioner Bryan Lober, compared to every other office. According to the records, Lober spent $39,421.68. The other 4 Commissioner’s spent an average of $3,249 over the same time period. That’s over 20 times what Commissioner Rita Pritchett’s office spent.
What may be more alarming than the amount Lober’s office spent is what the money was spent on; a point also made in the anonymous email.
From the list of items, it appears Commissioner Lober is building his own computer and network systems apart from the County’s. He has been under-fire before, and even criminal investigation for not complying with public records laws, providing incomplete/altered records, and proposing policy changes to make it more difficult and expensive for the public to access the records. The charges show a monthly account fee of $49.99/mo for two Bivystick’s (which cost $616/each). According to their website, a Bivystick is a “Two-way satellite communicator” used to turn your smartphone into a true global satellite communication device.
Lober defends himself in a 6 page email stating that his expenditures came from the Covid-19 relief funds provided by the federal government to the County. Except for a box of gloves, it’s difficult to understand the justification of his expenses as being related to Covid-19.
The list also contains over $3,600 in surveillance equipment, a $750 luxury office chair, multiple hard drives/thumb drives/data storage devices, 3-D printer equipment, a $200 infrared thermometer, various membership fees, and various expensive items with vague descriptions. We provide the entire list below.
This isn’t the first time Lober has been under the spotlight for misuse of purchasing or credit cards. Just last year, he used his card under the name of one of his staff members to make a $750 GoFundMe donation to a charitable cause. Then Brevard County Clerk of Court’s Scott Ellis rebuked Lober at a Commission meeting. “You can’t use your p-card for GoFundMe,” Ellis said. “I don’t think you’ll find one person up here that thinks you should be able to use your purchase card on GoFundMe.”
Commissioner Rita Pritchett stated “Im a little uncomfortable with it.” Ellis responded, “I’m a lot uncomfortable with that. If an employee did that, they would be disciplined, if not fired.”
In 2019, Robert Burns (owner of this publication) filed a campaign finance complaint against Commissioner Lober for illegally using his credit card to the tune of over $100,000 to fund his election campaign, giving him an extreme advantage over his opponent. Lober took a settlement with the Florida Election Commission where his lawyer, in a written statement claimed his ignorance of the law as his defense. It should be noted that Commissioner Lober is a licensed Florida attorney. In social media comments, Lober stated he used his credit cards so he could get the points, thus profiting from his own campaign. He refused however to show who actually paid the credit card bills for him, as they were not reflected in his financial disclosures, nor did he show he had the money to spend.
In response to the now uncovered spending by Lober’s office, Commissioner Rita Pritchett (a CPA) stated she has asked the County Attorney to come up with some ways to provide some over-site or regulation of how they use their p-cards. It will be discussed at the next regular meeting.
Before Lober proposed a change to the public records policy, a records request of the internet browser of his office revealed that one of his staff members Rocket Weiler was working as a online college professor during County office hours, on the County equipment for a large percentage of tax-payer’s time. It also revealed Lober streaming movies on Hulu, endless shopping on Amazon, official emails on his personal gmail account, and lot’s of time reading Florida Today.
The entire list of expenditures as well as the email is below.County-Commission-Purchase-Card-Report-Findings