Governor and Democratic leadership call for State Auditor resignation, some seek constitutional removal
State Auditor Kathy McGuiness says she intends to remain in office and seek reelection, despite being found guilty of three misdemeanors – conflict of interest, structuring, and official misconduct.
And while she legally has the right to do so, some Democratic leadership, along with Governor John Carney, wants to remove her.
Gov. Carney said in a statement he doesn’t believe the auditor can do her job effectively under the circumstances, but adds he has no power to act until McGuiness is officially convicted and sentenced by Superior Court.
But, the General Assembly can act now – Senate President Pro Tempore Dave Sokola, Senate Majority Leader Bryan Townsend, and Senate Majority Whip “Tizzy” Lockman urged McGuiness to step down Friday, and Tuesday asserted they are prepared to exercise their power to remove her otherwise and that they are prepared to lead the way to start that process in the General Assembly.
Townsend says calls for McGuiness to resign, or take a leave of absence started with the indictment, but now grow more urgent.
“The hypotheticals of appeals or other motions and how it might affect legislation decisions I think is secondary to the fact that people want to ensure that someone in such a position of influence and authority and oversight regarding state finances is someone they can trust,” Townsend said.
But for now Senate Democratic leadership stands alone. While House Majority Leader Valerie Longhurst and Majority Whip Larry Mitchell called on McGuiness to resign Friday, they pointed to Carney to remove her if she didn’t Friday. And neither House or Senate Republicans have responded to the verdict.
“Most importantly, we definitely can appreciate that Delawareans want accountability," Townsend said. "For a long time now people have been calling for the auditor to be removed, even given the indictment. So now that we’re past that phase and there is an actual finding of guilt by a jury, there are people who believe there should be no additional delay.”
Townsend is hopeful, however, that there will be bipartisan consensus that McGuiness should not continue in office.