Following a Belleville News-Democrat investigation into Venice School Superintendent Cullen Cullen’s spending habits that uncovered over $5,000 spent on fast food and nearly $18,000 on lavish hotels since September 6, 2013 using taxpayer funds, a further investigation uncovered even more wasteful spending in the years since Cullen took over as the school’s superintendent.
From June 26, 2009 to August 29, 2014, Cullen used the school’s taxpayer-funded credit card to spend $23,532.89 on food purchases, including many fast food lunches. For the same period, Cullen also used the school’s credit card to spend $55,345.56 on lavish hotel stays in downtown Chicago. Most of this happened while the Venice School District was under financial oversight due to the school’s spending problems and performance.
“It’s a shame to uncover more wasteful and abusive spending under Cullen’s watch at the Venice School District, especially since the school was under financial oversight for most of the time period,” State Representative Dwight Kay (R-Glen Carbon) said. “With a salary of nearly $110,000 a year, one would think Cullen could afford to buy his own fast food lunches without having the taxpayers foot the bill.”
From 2003-2012, Venice Community School District #3 was under financial oversight by the Illinois State Board of Education. The oversight panel was tasked with developing an emergency assistance and recovery plan for the troubled school system. Fast forward to 2014, the school district is still the second worst performing school in Illinois even though the school spends $17,000 per student all while Superintendent Cullen repeatedly abuses school district funds to pay for his fast food meals and lavish hotel stays.
Rep. Kay added, “I believe all the taxpayer money spent on fast food and lavish hotels would have been better spent in the classroom helping the student’s achieve the educational success they deserve. I once again call on Cullen to refund the school district for his fast food lunches and to stop wasting taxpayer dollars on himself. If Cullen really cared about saving his school district money, he should have thought twice about buying fast food and should have drove to Chicago instead of flying and he should have chose cheaper hotel accommodations.”
To view Cullen’s Credit Card Purchases since 2009 click on either of the three links: