Delaware State News 07/30/18 Democrats jockey for support in auditor race

This story by Matt Bittle appeared in the Delaware State News:

Democrats jockey for support in auditor race

Jul 30th, 2018 · by Matt Bittle

DOVER — Delaware’s auditor is an oft-overlooked position, with the officeholder generally working behind the scenes and ceding the spotlight to the governor and legislators, but every four years, the job receives more attention as candidates vow to intensify efforts to save taxpayers money.

This year, with Republican incumbent Tom Wagner not seeking reelection after 29 years in the post, that focus is even greater.

The three Democratic candidates for the position took part in a debate Monday night, seeking to make their case to a crowd of about 20. Each took a slightly different tack, although all three participants argued their experience makes them uniquely qualified for the position.

Dennis E. Williams cited his work as an accountant in the private and public sectors, while Kathleen Davies leaned on her time working for the auditor’s office in Delaware and Kathy McGuiness pointed to her background as a business owner and Rehoboth Beach commissioner.

Mr. Williams used an aggressive approach, alleging Ms. McGuiness is too closely tied to various state officials to properly do the job and challenging Ms. Davies on her termination from the auditor’s office.

“Anyone accepting the endorsements and/or financial help from elected officials, who the auditor would be responsible for auditing, under the law is compromised, is compromised and cannot do the job,” he said. “There’s independence of fact and there’s independence of appearance.

“For the people of Delaware to have confidence in their financial status, confidence in where the state money is going, confidence that these numbers are correct and that you’re looking out for the people of Delaware, you must be independent in appearance as well.”

Ms. McGuiness, who touts endorsements from several Democratic legislators and other officials, argued her support from members of the General Assembly would help her communicate the needs of the office to and receive support from the Legislature.

“They believe in me and they’re attaching their name to me,” she said.

Few details have come out about the situation involving Ms. Davies. She was placed on paid leave from the office for more than a year and a half before being terminated at the end of 2017. She declined to share details Monday, noting the process is still ongoing and she is legally unable to share documents related to her dismissal.

Ms. Davies, who worked for the office for six years as chief administrative auditor before being suspended, did push back against claims she leaked incomplete audits, noting her professional license has not been suspended.

Monday, she cited specific standards and practices, seeking to paint herself as the most qualified candidate and emphasizing she is the only one who has audited state entities.

The role of auditor is the “the ultimate career position” and the auditor cannot make a mistake, she said.

“It is very, very important that each and every report that goes out under the government standards, under the inspection standards, has to have the highest quality because the worst thing you can do is put out a report that is not accurate or falsely accuses someone or is not in the proper state in order to support some sort of enforcement for those that use our report after they are done,” she said.

She has been backed by the Delaware State Education Association and several legislators.

The auditor is responsible for ensuring taxpayer dollars are spent properly, although the office cannot in itself effect policy changes.

Mr. Williams, a former state representative, said he was part of a team working for the U.S. Department of the Navy that discovered defense contractors massively overcharging for routine items like toilet seats and hammers.

Ms. McGuiness argued her experience outside state government makes her best suited for the position and spoke of creating a new beginning with fresh eyes running the office.

All three candidates agreed the office faces significant staffing challenges, and both Ms. McGuiness and Mr. Williams were critical of Mr. Wagner.

“At the end of the day, we can pump out audits out of this office, like the past administration and the team has done, but if we don’t do anything with them and act upon them and follow up and make sure that the red flags are being addressed, it’s no different than … going into a restaurant and finding mice” and health officials doing nothing about it, Ms. McGuiness told the audience.

Mr. Williams said he has spoken to state employees who believe they would be ignored if they were to raise concerns about financial misconduct.

“They don’t feel that they’re necessarily being listened to or that something is going to come of what they’re reporting or that it’ll come in a timely manner,” he said.

The primary is Sept. 6. The winner will face Republican James Spadola.

Reach staff writer Matt Bittle at mbittle@newszap.com

Dennis E Williams calls McGuiness ‘Too Compromised and Flawed’ to remain in State Auditor’s race and calls on Compromised Elected Officials to Withdraw their Support.

Former State Representative Dennis E Williams today called State Auditor candidate Kathy McGuiness “too compromised and flawed" to remain in the State Auditor’s race and said that she should withdraw from the race.

Williams cited the assessment of accounting experts, including professors from the University of Delaware and the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania, who concluded that McGuiness’ actions of seeking and accepting the endorsements and financial help - from elected officials who head the very departments, agencies, and branches of government that she would be required to audit if elected – “has compromised her independence and her ability to serve as state auditor”.

One of these experts, Dr. Araya Debessay, UD Professor of Accounting in the Lerner College of Business & Economics, appointed by former Governor Jack Markell to the Delaware State Board of Accountancy and the Delaware Public Employee’s Retirement Systems Audit Committee, said the ‘best course of action for someone who has compromised their independence by getting endorsements or by receiving financial contributions from constituent groups who will be audited by the State Auditor is to withdraw their candidacy.”

Williams noted that “McGuiness - in a desperate attempt to obtain higher office, any higher office - has sold herself and has compromised her ability to be independent. McGuiness’ claim that ‘she would be independent once in office’ is meaningless as she has already so seriously compromised herself that there is no other effective remedy available but to withdraw from the race.  It is a case of ‘you can’t put the toothpaste back in the tube’. Her actions are an affront to the voters of the State of Delaware who would be deprived of their right to receive honest and faithful services from their state government if she is elected. Further, her actions violate the ethical standards of independence of mind and independence in appearance as set forth in the AICPA Code of Professional Conduct and the GAO Government Auditing Standards.”

McGuiness, who has no accounting or finance education or experience, does not possess the accounting qualifications necessary to understand the role of Auditor, to understand the auditing code of professional conduct and ethics, or to effectively serve as Auditor.  She has declared that the state could be audited using Quickbooks, dismissed the importance of the financial audits mandated by Delaware code and necessary for Delaware’s capital infrastructure financing and other state borrowing through Wall Street and other financial markets,

Candidate McGuiness has tried to deceive voters about her qualifications and the support for her candidacy.  She has been touting her experience as a ‘Certified Fraud Examiner’(CFE), failing to note, however, that she has never worked as a CFE, and – as she has admitted -  obtained this certificate just last year. She obviously got the certificate after losing the primary race for Lt. Governor, clearly in preparation for running for Auditor, a race she began even while running for re-election as a Commissioner on Rehoboth City Council.  Candidate McGuiness also misled voters by listing at least two Democratic Party officials – County Party Chairs – as having endorsed her candidacy, when if fact they had not endorsed her.  She was told to remove their names from her website.

Despite her complete lack of education, experience, qualifications or understanding of the position, candidate McGuiness has received the endorsement of several elected officials who head agencies, departments, or branches of government that are required by Delaware Code to be audited by the State Auditor of Accounts.

 In a display of incredibly bad judgment or utter contempt for the ethical standards of their offices, these elected officials, including the Insurance Commissioner, Speaker of the House, and House Majority Leader, and other state and local officials have publicly endorsed McGuiness and all are actively helping her raise money for her campaign. Another renowned accounting expert has stated that “campaign contributions and endorsements from elected officials and the branches of state government (the eventual ‘audit clients’) is a threat to Auditor independence”.

Knowing full well that Delaware Code MANDATES that the State Auditor audit all departments, agencies, and branches of government, Insurance Commissioner Navarro, Speaker Schwartzkopf, Majority Leader Longhurst, and other elected officials at the state and local levels have compromised themselves and candidate McGuiness and have opened themselves up to charges of collusion and conspiracy by seeking to choose the person who would be auditing and investigating the very departments, agencies, and branches of government that they head.  We cannot allow this to happen in our state.  These elected officials are doing a great disservice to the Democratic primary voters and to all the people of Delaware who would be deprived of their right to receive honest and faithful services from their state government should McGuiness prevail. 

Governor John Carney, in a meeting with Mr. Williams earlier this year, clearly stated that he had no intention of getting involved in the Auditor race since he felt it was completely inappropriate for him, as head of the Executive Branch, to be involved in choosing the person responsible for auditing the Executive Branch.

These compromised elected officials must take action now to help restore confidence in our primary election and in our government. Insurance Commissioner Navarro, Speaker Schwartzkopf, Majority Leader Longhurst, and other elected officials at the state and local levels on Ms. McGuiness’ endorsement list should immediately:

·        Renounce and Rescind their endorsements of candidate McGuiness

·        Demand the return of any and all contributions they gave to candidate McGuiness

·        Stop using their position to directly or indirectly cause others to contribute to candidate McGuiness’ campaign

·        Urge candidate McGuiness to withdraw from the race for the good of the party and the good of the state

Mr. Williams, an accounting and operations management professional, with an accounting and financial management degree from the University of Delaware, a Master’s degree in Technology Management from the Wharton School and School of Engineering of the University of Pennsylvania, 30 years’ experience as an accountant, financial controller, and Chief Financial Officer, knows that independence is an absolute, unquestionable, unwavering requirement of the office of Delaware Auditor of Accounts.

Mr. Williams has not sought and will not accept the endorsements or financial support of any currently serving elected official or department or agency head at the state or local level.  As State Auditor, Williams will hold every state agency and department accountable and work to increase transparency in state government and will always place the public interests above any special or personal interests.

 More information is available on www.WilliamsForAuditor.org and on Facebook – Dennis E Williams for State Auditor – 302-373-0115

####

Democrat Dennis E Williams files to run for Delaware State Auditor of Accounts

The people of Delaware deserve a qualified State Auditor who will look out for them!

In January of this year, at the urging of Democrats throughout the state to bring my experience to this position, I filed to be the Democratic Candidate for State Auditor.

I will be an independent advocate for the people of Delaware, working to ensure that our tax dollars are spent efficiently and effectively.

My experience, education, and background has prepared me to be your State Auditor. 

·        University of Delaware BS in Accounting and Financial Management

·        University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School and School of Engineering – Master’s Degree

·        30 years’ experience in business, government, and non-profit accounting, finance, and management

·        State Representative (2008 – 2014)

o   Defeated a 10-year entrenched Republic incumbent

o   State Budget Experience

o   Voted for more Transparency and Accountability in Government and Campaign Finance

o   Served on the Joint Capital Infrastructure Budget Committee

o   Watchdog against wasteful spending

My goal is to focus on modernization and best practices, to eliminate the waste and abuse of taxpayer dollars, and to ensure that taxpayer dollars are being spent more efficiently and effectively, so we can invest in education, public safety, infrastructure, and the many non-profits that do so much for our communities.

I am asking today for your help in this campaign to bring experience and competence to the office of State Auditor.  Please click on the Take Action button to volunteer or donate to the campaign.  You can also like my Facebook page - Dennis E Williams for State Auditor.

'Right to Work' is Wrong

‘Right to Work’ is Wrong.

As Delaware State Auditor I will proactively work to find savings and efficiencies in our State Government.  I will investigate fraud and abuse.

I will also speak out in support of proposals that will benefit the citizens of Delaware.

I will also speak out in opposition to proposals that will harm the citizens of Delaware.

One such proposal, being promoted by a member of the Sussex County Council, is to make Sussex County a ‘Right to Work’ county.  This misrepresented proposal should really be called what it is – ‘Right to Work for Less’.  The average worker in a Right to Work (RTW) state makes about $6,000 less than the average worker in a free bargaining state.  The poverty rate is almost 15% higher in RTW states than in free bargaining states.  Workplace fatalities are almost 55% higher in RTW states compared to states where the unions can speak up on behalf of workers.

I grew up in a Union family.  My father was a heavy equipment operator in Operating Engineers Local 542.  Several of my cousins and two of my uncles were in Local 542.  Other cousins and uncles were Union pipefitters and Union Bricklayers.  I worked as a member of Laborer’s Local 199 while I was a student at the University of Delaware.  These unions and many others provided good paying jobs with health benefits and the unions aggressively worked to ensure that workers had a safe working environment.

Without the work of Organized Labor we wouldn’t have the 40 hour work week, employer provided health benefits, and workplace safety.  Do we really want to risk all of this for the false promises of the Right to Work proponents?  Right to Work is Wrong.  It is wrong for Sussex County and it is wrong for Delaware. 

Contact Sussex County Council.  Contact your State Representatives and State Senators. Please join me in speaking out against this misguided, misleading, and wrong proposal. 

 

DEMOCRAT DENNIS E WILLIAMS ANNOUNCES RUN FOR DELAWARE STATE AUDITOR OFFICE.

MEDIA ADVISORY FOR:

Wednesday 10/11/17

 

DENNIS E WILLIAMS FILES WITH THE DELAWARE DEPARTMENT OF ELECTIONS TO FORM COMMITTEE TO RUN FOR DELAWARE STATE AUDITOR OF ACCOUNTS.

Former State Representative Dennis E Willliams announced this morning that he will be seeking the office of Delaware State Auditor of Accounts in the November 2018 election.  Williams established a Statement of Organization with the Delaware Department of Elections for the committee ‘Williams for Auditor’ earlier today.

Representative Williams has been urged by voters, Democratic Committee members, and elected officials throughout the state to bring his experience and qualifications to the position of State Auditor.  Dennis has had a career that makes him uniquely qualified for this position.

Representative Williams has over 30 years of experience in business, government, and non-profit accounting, finance, and management. He is currently the Chief Financial Officer of a major research library and archive. Dennis is a lifelong Delawarean, a graduate of Concord High School and the University of Delaware, where he earned degrees in Accounting and Financial Management.  Dennis also earned a Master’s Degree from the University of Pennsylvania (Wharton/Engineering).

Representative Williams applied his knowledge and experience to his work as a member of the General Assembly’s Joint Capital Infrastructure Budget Committee, helping to maintain and bring new jobs to the state.  He fought for more transparency, accountability, and efficiency from state departments that came before that committee and will bring that fight to the rest of state government.  In announcing this campaign, Dennis said “My goal is to focus on modernization and best practices, to ensure that taxpayer dollars are being spent more efficiently and effectively, so we can invest in education, public safety, and the many non-profits that do so much for our communities and our state.”

####