Our Call: Auditor who doesn’t audit is a farce with a high cost

Editorial

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What do you do with an auditor who doesn’t audit?

That’s one of the many tasks at hand for the County Council, although it’s the one with the easiest answer.

Critics have long said that Auditor Mark Tucker, placed in the position in 2017 by his friend, County Executive Sam Page, can’t audit.

But at least for awhile, Tucker was pretending otherwise. However, when he was asked by state auditors how many audits he completed in 2019, he “could not confirm how many reports were issued during that year.” You read that right, the county auditor can’t even figure out how many audits he has — or hasn’t — completed. How is this man and his office supposed to audit any other department in meaningful fashion?

If the council can’t fix this problem, how can they fix anything? If this council can’t take oversight over one person with an obvious job title with straightforward job requirements that a decent number of people in the population actually do possess, no wonder they didn’t want to oversee the $173.5 million in federal coronavirus spending — how could they?

Speaking of that money, wouldn’t it be nice right about now to have a county auditor looking into whether the money is being spent as promised? But the county has turned to volunteers and law firms for that job.

At first, Tucker and his defenders argued, all he needed to audit was a staff. The state audit notes he hired a lawyer as an “audit adviser” in 2018 and an “audit manager” in 2019. They haven’t produced any audits.

So now not only do we have a county auditor who can’t audit, but we have an “audit adviser” who can’t audit and an “audit manager” who can’t audit. This office could be a sitcom, but to county taxpayers it’s not a very funny one.

No one can argue that with a corrupt county executive, Steve Stenger, at the helm and a council that missed key details of leases, contracts and bids, three auditors actually auditing the county as they were hired to do would have been extremely useful.

And while Page has argued that Tucker has conducted useful audits, we’ve never found any evidence of that on the county website or elsewhere. Tucker clearly has difficulty conducting his own duties, let alone assessing those of other departments.

The council has many tough decisions ahead, but this is a no-brainer.

What do you do with an auditor who doesn’t audit? You fire him and hire one who does.