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Monday, July 4, 2022

Daughter Testifies in Delaware Auditor Corruption Trial

DUVER, Delaware. ( Associated Press) — Delaware auditor’s daughter Kathy McGuinness testified Wednesday at her mother’s criminal corruption trial, saying she earned her paycheck after being hired part-time at the auditor’s office, but other employees are bad dealt with her. .

Elizabeth McGuinness, 20, was called as a prosecution witness after reaching a limited immunity agreement with prosecutors protecting her from any repercussions regarding conflicting statements she had previously made to investigators, including denying she used her personal phone or personal account. email for work.

Kathy McGuinness, a Democrat elected in 2018, is responsible as state auditor for rooting out government fraud, waste and abuse. She is on trial on charges of theft and intimidation of witnesses, as well as allegations of misconduct, conflict of interest and failure to comply with public procurement laws.

Prosecutors allege, among other things, that McGuinness hired her daughter and her best friend as temporary employees in 2020, even though other temporary employees quit due to a lack of available work amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Authorities allege that by employing her daughter and exercising control over the taxpayer money she was paid, McGuinness engaged in the theft of public money and a conflict of interest.

Elizabeth McGuinness, who has not been charged with anything, testified when questioned by prosecutor Maria Knoll that she and her best friend applied for a “casual-seasonal” job at her mother’s office in February 2020 and began working there the following May.

McGuinness could not recall details of how she found out about the job or what her mother’s chief of staff asked her about, but during cross-examination by her mother’s lawyer, Steve Wood, she admitted that she was quite certain she would get the job.

McGuinness said her responsibilities included “a lot of editing reports, presentations and newsletters, as well as graphic design and social media work.” Prosecutors allege she continued to be paid after leaving college in the fall of 2020, but McGuinness said she continued to work several hours a week on projects while in school, and also received payment for the hours she “put off” after exceeding her weekly rate. 29.5 hours maximum while working the long summer hours at the Delaware State Fair.

“I was able to continue entering data and more additions from future social media,” McGuinness told her mother in a September 2020 email from her personal email account. “I won’t be able to work more than 10 hours a week as I’m in school and my extra hours end on the 20th week.”

When cross-examined by Wood, McGuinness denied billing the state for the hours she didn’t work and said she worked every hour she was paid for. She also told Wood that she had been mistreated by other members of the audit firm, stating that they “immediately took a dislike” to her and her friend and colleague Virginia Bateman.

In an earlier testimony, the owner of a consulting firm hired by Kathy McGuinness in late 2019 under a non-bidding contract said the auditor’s office staff were incompetent and backed down on reforms Kathy McGuinness wanted to make after her predecessor’s 30-year tenure. .

“It was a very toxic culture,” Christy Gross said, adding that she never had conflicts with McGuinness herself.

Gross testified that she eventually stopped working for the audit firm in 2021 after successfully bidding on a second contract. She said the final straw came after she spent several nights correcting numbers in a budget request that was due to be submitted to state lawmakers, only to see the old numbers come back. staff that the correct numbers would be restored, only to inadvertently discover that they were not.

“When I saw this, I just decided it was too much for me to continue,” Gross said, calling the audit firm a “disaster” that “lacked professionalism.”

Prosecutors alleged that McGuinness arranged a non-bidding “communications services” contract for Gross’ consulting firm My Campaign Group, which she used as a campaign consultant when she ran for lieutenant governor in 2016. They also stated that she intentionally withheld payments from the contract. less than $5,000 each to avoid being approved by the accounting department.

Gross testified that McGuinness never told her to bill for less than $5,000 and that she was not even aware of the $5,000 reporting threshold until McGuinness was charged.

McGuinness is also accused of intimidation and retaliation against employees who reported her alleged wrongdoing or who she believed may have cooperated with investigators.

Prosecutors allege that the intimidation, which included snooping on employee emails, began as early as March 2019, though McGuinness was not told until September 2021 that she was under criminal investigation.

World Nation News Desk
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