Even Presidential Candidates Have to Watch Their P-Card Use

February 4, 2016

Florida Senator Marco Rubio is probably wishing he had left his American Express card at home. The Republican presidential candidate is once again under attack from his opponents for using his Florida Republican Party credit card for personal expenses.

Rubio probably thought the issue had finally been put to rest late last year after his 2007 and 2008 credit card expense details made political headlines, but it appears that Jeb Bush’s campaign thought it time to revive the scandal after Rubio appeared to be gaining momentum following the Iowa caucuses.

The attack ad is simple – Rubio’s bad judgment indicates he’s not ready to be President. While Rubio contends that the party never paid for the $22,000 in personal expenditures on the corporate card, the optics are proving to be damning for the presidential candidate.

Even Donald Trump is getting in on the action. The controversial GOP presidential candidate has been urging reporters to investigate Rubio’s credit card use and is quoted in a Wall Street Journal blog as saying that Rubio has a disaster on his finances and his credit cards.

Policies and Procedures

The Republican Party could have avoided this headache in a couple of ways: 1) Don’t allow candidates to use their corporate credit cards for personal expenses and manually monitor the transactions; and 2) Use a purchasing card (P-Card) software that continuously monitors transactions to catch suspect purchases before they became political problems.

In Rubio’s case, a $10.50 movie ticket he purchased could have been flagged through its merchant category code (MCC), while the $10,000, four-day family reunion may have been caught if he was flagged as being on vacation (or not on the campaign trail) through HR data.

Using Technology

Incorporating data from various systems is the strength of Alessa. Examples of data sources used by the solution include:

  • P-Card transaction data – Provided by the card issuer and contains records of all transaction details including MCC, item description, purchase date, amount and vendor name.
  • Cardholder master – Provided by the card issuer and contains data for all cardholders in the P-Card program. Details include the last four digits of each card, monthly card limit, card status, date issued, etc.
  • Employee master file – File of employees with details such as employee name, identification number, department, vacation schedule and employment status.
  • Expense signoff – Expenses submitted by employees with details including purchase date, cardholder comments and manager signoff details.
  • Accounts payable (AP) – Lists payments made by AP and details such as invoice date and number, vendor name, item description and transaction amount. This data can be used to detect duplicate transactions across P-Card and AP processes.

Political parties are not the only ones that need to worry about tracking their P-Cards. Higher education organizations must also keep a tight control on expenses.

About Andrew Simpson

Andrew Simpson (LinkedIn | Twitter) is Chief Operating Officer at CaseWare RCM and has more than 20 years of experience building businesses in the fields of information systems audit and security, data analytics, Anti-Money Laundering and forensics. He is a regular contributor to conferences and a recognized thought leader in financial crime management.

Try Alessa