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McGuiness seeks to have some charges dropped, trial may be delayed

kathy mcguiness lawyer court walk
Rachel Sawicki
/
Delaware Public Media

A judge is considering a motion to dismiss one felony charge against State Auditor Kathy McGuiness.

In a hearing on Thursday morning, McGuiness’ attorney made a motion to dismiss the fifth count against her, a felony Act of Intimidation.

The indictment claims McGuiness knowingly discriminated against and attempted to dissuade whistleblowers who expressed concerns about misconduct. But, her attorney, former Deputy Attorney General, Steven Wood, argues if McGuiness did not know she was under investigation, and did not believe her actions were misconduct, the charge has no grounds.

The state allegedly began its investigation in March 2019, but it is unclear whether McGuiness knew. Her awareness prior to a search warrant execution in September 2021 remains in question.

Another count - a misdemeanor - could also be dismissed at a later date. McGuiness allegedly offered bid contracts to her former campaign consultant for $45,000, just shy of $50,000 which would then require a public bidding process. The State Procurement Code says purchases cannot be split into multiple transactions under $5,000, but payments to the campaign group violated that code. McGuinness allegedly created a conflict of interest by offering bid contracts to her former campaign group.

Wood requested to review bid contracts from every elected official’s agency, to determine if McGuiness’ actions are being singled out, but said he still has not received the documents he requested. He instead complained of “dumping discovery”- saying the Attorney General’s office is providing him with over 500,000 documents that could contain that information.

Wood argued if the State cannot produce the specific documents, then the charges should be dropped. And, if he finds similar bid contracts from other officials, he can argue that she is being selectively prosecuted.

Judge William Carpenter Jr. expressed concern over the fast-approaching May trial date, and said he may move it to late summer or fall to give both sides ample time to review and request more evidence.

Rachel Sawicki is Delaware Public Media's New Castle County Reporter. They are non-binary and use they/them pronouns.