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Bipartisan group of lawmakers seek removal of McGuiness by Gov. Carney

Roman Battaglia
Delaware Public Media

A bipartisan group of lawmakers are calling on Gov. John Carney to remove the state auditor from office.

A special legislative session on November 1st is reserved for approving the new election district maps, but some lawmakers want to add to the agenda.

State Reps. Madinah Wilson-Anton (D-Christina) and Mike Smith (R-Pike Creek) seek a vote on a resolution calling for the governor to remove State Auditor Kathy McGuiness from office.

The House of Representatives also has the power to impeach the auditor, who was charged with multiple crimes including theft, witness intimidation and misconduct earlier this month.

But Wilson-Anton says that would only draw out the situation.

“Like we see on the national stage, impeachment processes can be incredibly long processes — they can be dramatic, they can be messy,” she says. “And I just see that as a waste of taxpayer time and resources and Rep. Smith I think agrees with me on that and a lot of other folks I’ve talked to.”

Wilson-Anton says she bumped into Gov. Carney this past weekend at the UD homecoming game and he said he hadn’t yet seen the letter she sent on Friday. She urged him to look at it soon.

The Governor’s office declined to comment on the resolution.

House Speaker Pete Schwartzkopf said previously that redistricting will be the only item on November’s agenda, but Wilson-Anton says this can’t wait until January when the regular session resumes.

House and Senate leadership have also called for McGuiness to take a voluntary leave of absence from her post, while her case heads through the courts.

And others, including State Rep. Paul Baumbach (D-Newark) and Eric Morrison (D-Newark) and the head of the Delaware Democratic Party, Besty Maron, have called for McGuiness to resign.

Wilson-Anton says she’s received support from other lawmakers for her and Smith’s resolution. In a statement released on Facebook Friday, State Sen. Laura Sturgeon says, “Auditor McGuiness deserves her day in court, but she should have her day in court as a private citizen and not as a public office holder. The charges brought against her, the indictments, and the fact that they stem from her role as an office holder, require that she resign or be removed by an act of the legislature.”

Wilson-Anton says it’s the public’s trust in the state government that’s been hurt the most, considering the fact that the role of the state auditor is to be the watchdog over the very funds that McGuiness is accused of misusing.

She adds in order to rebuild trust in the state government, maybe it’s time to change how the state audits itself.

“Does it make sense for us to have an elected, political person in a role that really shouldn’t be political, shouldn’t be partisan.”

Wilson-Anton suggests the state change the way it fills the State Auditor’s office. 24 states, including Delaware, elect their auditor directly. Other states have the legislature or governor appoint one.

Wilson-Anton says creating a more independent, non-partisan state auditor position is something lawmakers may look at when they begin their regular session in January.

She says looking at the benefits and drawbacks of such a change is important, as ensuring the new position would be better than before is a priority.

Roman Battaglia is a corps member withReport for America, a national service program that places journalists into local newsrooms.

Roman Battaglia grew up in Portland, Ore, and now reports for Delaware Public Media as a Report For America corps member. He focuses on politics, elections and legislation activity at the local, county and state levels.
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