Taxpayer sparks probe into government vehicle at Braves game

6:35 PM, Jun 19, 2012   |    comments
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ATLANTA, Ga-A loss to the New York Yankees was hard enough for Braves fan Allen Willoughby, but he was even more bothered to see his tax dollars were used to transport others to the game.

"I love the Braves, but I drive my own car there," said Willoughby. "I don't expect the government to pay for me to go."

Willoughby used his cell phone to take several photographs of a white Ford Explorer with government tags pulling into the Blue parking lot of Turner Field before the June 11th game with the Yankees. He saw several men inside the car pay cash for parking. The vehicle had a U.S. Forest Service logo on the side.

The tag of the car had a sticker that read "for official use only."

"I looked around to see if there were any crops growing anywhere," said Willoughby. "I looked around to see if there was any forest that needed to be tended. Since it was after 7 o'clock at night and thus after business hours it begged the question, what are they doing here?"

The U.S. General Services Administration lists rules for the use of federally owned vehicles. According to the GSA, government vehicles may b e used "for official purposes to perform your agency's mission." Employees are not allowed to take their vehicles home unless given written authorization.

11Alive emailed Allen Willoughby's pictures to the U.S. Forest Service as well as the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Late Tuesday, a spokesperson for the Forest Service emailed a statement saying that Forest Service officials in Atlanta are looking into the ballpark visit.

"When their work is complete, they will take appropriate action," said Stephanie Neal Johnson.

Johnson said the vehicle was operated by the unit of the Southern Region of the USDA Forest Service. She added that employees on extended assignments away from home can use government vehicles for limited personal needs such as meals, groceries, or other basic necessities.

"Generally, it is not appropriate for a government employee to drive a government vehicle for any other use," said Johnson.

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