EDITOR'S NOTE: This is one of several reports on court-ordered release of Fairfield Township's credit card records and what these credit card statements reveal. However, Trustee Taletha Coles did not turn over the receipts for the credit credit card purchases and there are missing statements..
LAFAYETTE, Ind. — Fairfield Township Trustee Taletha Coles chalked up her $113,259 in credit card charges over three years to her renovations at the township's office on Wabash Avenue, but only $36,691.51 can be directly tied to home improvement purchases.
A Journal & Courier's ongoing review of the court-ordered release of the township's credit card statements showed that between January 2019 and July 2021, Coles charged $36,691.51 to local home improvement stores, as well as to Just Blinds, Best Buy, and Cork Floors.
However, there are several months that do not have credit card statements, and there are statements that are only two pages. The documents indicate there are several missing pages that were not provided to the public.
The Journal & Courier emailed Coles for comment about the spending, including more than $2,000 of purchases at Best Buy in March 2020. Coles did not respond.
In May 2019, Coles charged $984 to Just Blinds, presumably for the township's office. She also charged more than $1,300 that month to National Business Furniture. In June 2019, Coles charged $2,652.59 to Cork Floors and $700 to Kirklands in Lafayette.
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The credit card statements indicate other charges to retailers that might push the renovation totals even higher, but without the receipts, which the J&C requested, there's no way to get a more accurate accounting.
The Indiana State Police and the State Board of Accounts are investigating the township's finances since Coles became trustee in January 2019.
Coles was running for re-election Tuesday in the Democratic primary. She faced competition from Fairfield Township Board members Rocky Hession and Monica Casanova.
Republican Fairfield Township trustee candidate April O'Brien is running unopposed and will face the Democratic primary winner.
In the past, Coles blamed her high credit card spending — including regular purchases at the Lafayette Sam's Club — on the renovations. The Journal & Courier did not include any Sam's Club purchases in the total reported today because there are not indications that the Sam's Club purchases had anything to do with renovations.
In its Sept. 17, 2021, request to inspect public documents, The Journal & Courier requested to inspect credit card receipts as well as credit card statements.
The Journal & Courier filed a lawsuit on March 17, 2022, for Coles to produce the requested documents. Coles provided some monthly credit card statements, but there are pages missing and months missing from those statements.
Reach Ron Wilkins at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow on Twitter: @RonWilkins2.
This article originally appeared on Lafayette Journal & Courier: Lafayette trustee charged $36K to home improvement stores