City Beat

News, insight and discussion on Sacramento and its neighborhoods

October 19, 2012
Credit card use for Sacramento City Council revealed

Members of the City Council and their employees charged $406,945 on their city-issued credit cards between July 2008 and July 2012. But the activity varies widely office to office and, in some cases, the city was reimbursed for large travel charges.

For a list of the charges, click here: CC-Mayor-Cards.xlsx

Let's start with Councilman Steve Cohn's office. Records show his chief of staff, Sue Brown, made $78,321 in charges with her card - the most of anyone else in the council and mayor offices. However, roughly $16,000 of those charges were reimbursed for travel charges that Cohn made for trips.

Now, it was still public dollars paying for those trips; Cohn's office was reimbursed by Regional Transit and the Sacramento Area Flood Control Agency (SAFCA).

Cohn said a large portion of the remaining charges helped put on his annual Pops in the Park series. Those musical events, he said, end up making money that is put back into city parks upkeep.

"If they're all legitimate expenditures, then what are you gaining by having someone pay through another means and getting reimbursed?" Cohn said. "That takes up more time and administrative expense."

Cohn, who chairs the City Council's audit committee, said he is "pretty satisfied" with the results of various examinations that have found just two cases of alleged misuse of credit cards.

Both of those cases are now the focus of police department investigations.

As we reported today, former chief service officer Keith Hart - an appointee of Mayor Kevin Johnson - is the subject of a police inquiry into his credit card use. That probe is in addition to the criminal investigation of Lisa Serna-Mayorga, a former mayoral aide who resigned in July after it was revealed she allegedly used her card for personal uses.

Police said Thursday no other potential criminal activity was found with credit card use in the mayor and City Council offices.

It appears many of the charges went to fund council members' pet projects.

For example, Matthew Bryant, the district director for Councilwoman Bonnie Pannell, spent a combined $34,000 over a four-year period on the office's Santa Sam event. Most of the money purchased gifts that were given to elementary school students.

The office with the smallest credit card bill over the years was Councilwoman Sandy Sheedy's. Her administrative aide and daughter, Tyson Sheedy, used the office's credit card a total of six times - for a grand total of $266.

About Comments

Reader comments on are the opinions of the writer, not The Sacramento Bee. If you see an objectionable comment, click the "report abuse" button below it. We will delete comments containing inappropriate links, obscenities, hate speech, and personal attacks. Flagrant or repeat violators will be banned. See more about comments here.

What You Should Know About Comments on is happy to provide a forum for reader interaction, discussion, feedback and reaction to our stories. However, we reserve the right to delete inappropriate comments or ban users who can't play nice. (See our full terms of service here.)

Here are some rules of the road:

• Keep your comments civil. Don't insult one another or the subjects of our articles. If you think a comment violates our guidelines click the "report abuse" button to notify the moderators. Responding to the comment will only encourage bad behavior.

• Don't use profanities, vulgarities or hate speech. This is a general interest news site. Sometimes, there are children present. Don't say anything in a way you wouldn't want your own child to hear.

• Do not attack other users; focus your comments on issues, not individuals.

• Stay on topic. Only post comments relevant to the article at hand. If you want to discuss an issue with a specific user, click on his profile name and send him a direct message.

• Do not copy and paste outside material into the comment box.

• Don't repeat the same comment over and over. We heard you the first time.

• Do not use the commenting system for advertising. That's spam and it isn't allowed.

• Don't use all capital letters. That's akin to yelling and not appreciated by the audience.

You should also know that The Sacramento Bee does not screen comments before they are posted. You are more likely to see inappropriate comments before our staff does, so we ask that you click the "report abuse" button to submit those comments for moderator review. You also may notify us via email at Note the headline on which the comment is made and tell us the profile name of the user who made the comment. Remember, comment moderation is subjective. You may find some material objectionable that we won't and vice versa.

If you submit a comment, the user name of your account will appear along with it. Users cannot remove their own comments once they have submitted them, but you may ask our staff to retract one of your comments by sending an email to Again, make sure you note the headline on which the comment is made and tell us your profile name.

hide comments

On October 14, The Sacramento Bee will temporarily remove commenting from While we design the upgrade, we encourage you to tell us what you like and don't like about commenting on and other websites. We've heard from hundreds of you already and we're listening. Please continue to add your thoughts and questions here. We also encourage you to write Letters to the Editor on this and other topics.

About City Beat

Ryan Lillis has covered the city of Sacramento, its 108 neighborhoods and its politicians since 2008. Prior to that, he covered crime at The Bee. A native of upstate New York, Lillis has a journalism degree from the University of California, Berkeley.

Contact reporter Ryan Lillis at


Does the Kings' poor performance of late impact the arena work?

Ryan Lillis on Twitter

Follow "Ryan_Lillis" on Twitter

October 2013

Sun Mon Tue Wed Thu Fri Sat
    1 2 3 4 5
6 7 8 9 10 11 12
13 14 15 16 17 18 19
20 21 22 23 24 25 26
27 28 29 30 31    

Sacramento City Resources

City Web Sites

How to contact city officials