THE Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras board was allegedly worried about losing funding if it revealed the identity of a former staff member who misused a corporate credit, according to reports in Fairfax Media.
Mardi Gras confirmed former executive assistant to the CEO, Mitchell Price had charged $13,816 of personal expenses including car hire and social media to his corporate credit card.
He blamed the charges on a mix-up in in online banking accounts on his computer and when Mardi Gras discovered them in December 2014, they referred the matter to police.
“Some of the payments got mixed up and were charged to the Mardi Gras card instead of my own,” Price said in a statement to Fairfax Media.
“Once I became aware of the error I was mortified, immediately apologised and paid all the money back.”
Price not only worked for Notley-Smith but was an adviser in Liberal Sydney Councillor Christine Forster’s mayoral campaign in the lead-up to the council elections next month – he resigned from that role yesterday saying he did not want the news of his misuse of Mardi Gras credit cards to overshadow Forster’s campaign.
Price was represented by lawyer Michael Tyice – president of the East Sydney Liberal branch – in his negotiations with Mardi Gras to pay back the misused funds.
Both Forster and Notley-Smith said they were aware of Price’s history with Mardi Gras but backed him as a conscientious worker and were pleased to have worked with him.
It is understood the Mardi Gras board sought legal advice about whether Price’s misuse of the credit card constituted theft or fraud, rather than a mistake as he claimed, and what its obligation was to publicly contest his version of events.
Mardi Gras has indicated it would not speak publicly about the issue.