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State Auditor trial drags into a third week, prosecution close to resting

kathy mcguiness trial
Rachel Sawicki
/
Delaware Public Media
State Auditor Kathy McGuiness arrives at the Kent County Courthouse Wednesday with her attorney Steve Wood.

State prosecutors continued to make their case in the public corruption trial of State Auditor Kathy McGuiness Monday.

Former Chief Administrative Auditor Dawn Haw-Young finished her testimony from Friday. Several emails between McGuiness, Haw-Young, and other senior staff were presented that discussed bullying and harassment from one auditor towards interns.

The auditor in question was under Haw-Young’s direction, and McGuiness’ lawyer Steve Wood implied during cross-examination that Haw-Young was negligent towards the behavior for more than two-months, despite McGuiness’ direction to end it.

Administrative supervisor Laura Horsey also took the stand and was mainly questioned about a grievance she filed, combatting a written reprimand for speaking out in a meeting with the auditor’s office and various school districts.

McGuiness told Horsey her comments were “insubordinate and unacceptable,” but Horsey testified she believed she was productively contributing to the meeting and felt McGuiness was dismissive of Horsey’s 16-year tenure by accusing her of jeopardizing the office’s appearance as a united front in the meeting.

Horsey demanded in the grievance that the reprimand be removed from her file and McGuiness write an apology, both of which were denied, but Horsey’s salary and job title were ultimately unaffected.

In the afternoon, Chief Special Investigator Frank Robinson was grilled on the search warrant executed at the auditor’s office last fall.

McGuiness’ lawyer Steve Wood accused Robinson of signing a warrant with false statements. Robinson and the prosecution argue it was not intentional because they believed the statements to be true at the time.

The warrant stated McGuiness made multiple payments under $5,000 to circumvent the State Procurement Code. Yet Robinson confirmed the investigative team had a spreadsheet of payments made to My Campaign Group that showed one payment was made in August and September, both over $5,000, and both approved.

Wood made the same arguments during a late April hearing in hopes of having one count against McGuiness dismissed.

Robinson said Monday he allowed himself to get “twisted up” in Wood’s questioning at the hearing, and answered ‘yes’ to questions that “could not be answered with a simple yes or no.”

The warrant also contained a statement about My Campaign Group, alleging the company provides services to political candidates. But Wood noted Robinson had already interviewed owner Christie Gross, who said she never provided campaign services to McGuiness after 2016, when he wrote the warrant.

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