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Former Chief of Staff to Kathy McGuiness testifies at corruption trial

Kathy McGuiness State Auditor
Rachel Sawicki
Delaware Public Media
State Auditor Kathy McGuiness arriving at the Kent County Courthouse with attorney Steve Wood for day 3 of her corruption trial.

State prosecutors moved through several more witnesses in the State Auditor corruption trial Thursday, including a former Chief of Staff.

Thomas Van Horn testified he was the first to make the call to Special Investigator Frank Robinson about things in the Auditor’s office he felt were not being done “by the books.”

He said he was suspicious of seeing My Campaign Group on a contract, since they worked with State Auditor Kathy McGuiness during her campaign. He also testified McGuiness told him to make the PayPal payment to Christie Gross, owner of My Campaign Group, with his state credit card, which is prohibited in the Budgeting and Accounting Manual.

Van Horn added he never interviewed McGuiness’ daughter, Saylar, for a job, although Saylar said in court yesterday she believed Van Horn did interview her.

During his morning testimony, Van Horn told prosecutors he had a romantic relationship with another auditor, Rachel King, in the summer of 2020, which he claimed McGuiness knew about and approved of. In the afternoon, Van Horn denied the relationship was sexual.

McGuiness fired Van Horn in March 2021. He claims it was because she heard a rumor he was having a sexual relationship with a coworker. McGuiness’ attorney, Steve Wood, said Van Horn lied to a Grand Jury in March by not telling “the whole truth” about the rumor, which Wood argues was “actually true.”

Before Wood pulled “the whole truth” out of Van Horn on the stand in the afternoon, Judge William Carpenter reminded Van Horn he was under oath, saying, “you do not want to mess with this judge if you are lying.”

Prosecutors emphasized that at the time Van Horn was fired, the relationship was broken off.

Elizabeth Vasilikos, former deputy auditor and former Godmother to McGuiness’ two daughters testified in the morning that the office atmosphere was toxic and oppressive.

Patty Moore used to work in Human Resources at the Office of the Auditor, and testified she never questioned McGuiness’ daughter’s hours because employees are not identifiable by name on the time sheets.

The final Thursday witness, Kelsey Thomas, former fiscal administrative officer for McGuiness, did not finish her testimony.

Court reconvenes at 9 a.m. on Friday and is expected to finish at noon, but the trial will likely end towards the middle of next week.