Delaware Public Media

News Journal: Report faults State Auditor candidate Kathleen Davies for abuse of power

Aug 7, 2018

State Auditor candidate Kathleen Davies appears to have abused her power during her time as acting State Auditor, according to a report obtained by the News Journal.

State Auditor Tom Wagner gave Davies temporary authority to act on his behalf in 2011 as he underwent medical procedures. He is retiring this year because of health concerns.

Wagner commissioned Grant Thornton to investigate Davies in 2015 after complaints to the Office of Management and Budget accused her of violating office protocols and auditing standards.

According to the article, the Grant Thornton report accuses Davies of failing to follow travel expense and purchase card policies, withholding information from Wagner, disclosing confidential information to a legislator, influencing contract awards, incorrectly telling staff they didn't have whistleblower protections, creating a hostile work environment and intercepting Wagner's mail and email.

Davies disputed several of the allegations in the News Journal’s article. She didn’t respond to a request for comment from Delaware Public Media.

Wagner placed her on paid leave in 2016 and fired her in December 2017. The Delaware Department of Labor ruled in May that Wagner did not have grounds to fire Davies. But as the News Journal reports, Wagner did not provide the agency the full Grant Thornton report.

Wagner didn’t respond to a request from Delaware Public Media for a copy of the report.

The Merit Employee Relations Board started hearings last month on whether Davies was justifiably fired. It’s set to pick up again on Oct. 11th and 12th.

But it could be well after the Sept. 6th primary that the board issues its ruling. Davies is locked in the Democratic primary with Dennis E. Williams and Kathy McGuiness. The winner will face Republican James Spadola in the general election.

Note: The News Journal incorrectly wrote that the Davies' hearing was slated to continue Aug. 23rd. Our story has been updated with the correct dates.