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Judge rules on State Auditor Kathy McGuiness post-trial motions, two charges upheld, no new trial

State Auditor and her attorney Steve Wood arrive at the courthouse on June 29 for trial.
Rachel Sawicki
Delaware Public Media
State Auditor and her attorney Steve Wood arrive at the courthouse on June 29 for trial.

Delaware’s September primary is just two weeks away, and McGuiness will face voters with two misdemeanors on her record - for conflict of interest and official misconduct.

McGuiness was found guilty by jury of those misdemeanors in July, along with non-compliance with procurement law by structuring, which Judge William Carpenter dismissed. She was not convicted on felony charges of theft and witness intimidation.

Carpenter wrote it is difficult to even suggest that McGuiness did not have a personal interest in the decision to hire her daughter, that “common sense analysis” concludes summer jobs for her daughter and friends is a personal interest.

Official misconduct also stands. Carpenter says efforts on social media by McGuiness’ daughter and communication efforts led by Christie Gross from My Campaign Group were significantly intended to promote McGuiness personally.

On structuring, Carpenter says there is not enough evidence to suggest invoices were intentionally altered to avoid review, and while some actions may have violated the State’s accounting procedures, it is not criminalized.

Her request for a new trial was also denied, Carpenter ruling the defense can’t have it both ways – while McGuiness complained the State did not give her enough time to review evidence before the trial, she passed on the opportunity to postpone the trial, and then ended up delaying it for several weeks over venue questions.

He adds while disclosure is required of the State, a “hand-me-on-a-plate roadmap” is not. And, the State did provide documents in late March in a searchable format.

Carpenter also called McGuiness’ argument that some witness intimidation evidence was introduced to suggest she is a “bad character” unpersuasive.

Rachel Sawicki was born and raised in Camden, Delaware and attended the Caesar Rodney School District. They graduated from the University of Delaware in 2021 with a double degree in Communications and English and as a leader in the Student Television Network, WVUD and The Review.