Jessica Bies with the News Journal wrote an article about State Auditor candidate Kathleen Davies and willfully withheld information provided to her that would have drastically changed her article. There is absolutely no credible reason for Bies to withhold crucial information like that.
Somehow the News Journal was able to get ahold of what is known as the Grant Thornton report. This was a report State Auditor Tom Wagner signed a contract for in 2016 after he put his second in command, Kathleen Davies, on paid administrative leave. The report was meant to investigate supposed allegations against Davies. After the report was finished at some point in 2017, Wagner sent Davies a termination letter.
In her article today, Bies claims to have seen the report. She said the News Journal “obtained the report”. Which is very ironic given that only three have it: Kathleen Davies, the Auditor of Accounts office, and Grant Thornton. Bies did not publish the entire report as the News Journal usually does. Instead she cited specific parts of it. What she failed to mention is there is more than one report out there. In Davies unemployment hearing, Wagner himself, when the report came up, asked if it was the final report. The GT report was not placed into evidence at Davies unemployment hearing because no one could ascertain which report it was. Recent sources have confirmed there is a distinct possibility Wagner’s office may have had the capability of editing the report. Jessica Bies was well aware of this possibility but failed to mention it. She even wrote that Wagner “directed the scope of the report”. I would love to know what that scope was. Because he was never in the office.
As well, there is the issue of procurement with Wagner’s contract with Grant Thornton. In the state of Delaware, any professional services work involving more than $50,000 must have a request for proposal (RFP) sent out to prospective bidders. Wagner failed to do that. Which is against the law. All told, the Grant Thornton report, that Wagner’s office may have done work on themselves, cost Delaware taxpayers north of $120,000. I checked the Awarded Contracts website for the State of Delaware. Grant Thornton does not show up as an official vendor with the state nor does it show any contracts with them on the website.
Bies knew about all this but failed to do any homework on her end. I know this because I filed a complaint about Wagner’s office failing to put out an RFP. After going through the procurement office and the Office of Management and Budget, that complaint is now with the Delaware Attorney General’s office. Bies knew about this because I spoke with her on the phone Sunday night about this and sent her an email about the entire exchange between myself, the state procurement office, OMB, and the Attorney General’s office.
This began last Wednesday when I learned the News Journal received a copy of the almost mythical Grant Thornton report. I called the procurement office to find out how Wagner was able to spend over $120,000 on a report he never sent out for bid. I spoke with a very nice woman named Maria. She asked that I send her an email based on our conversation, which I did.
From: Kevin Ohlandt [mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org]
Sent: Wednesday, August 01, 2018 4:12 PM
To: Fry, Maria (OMB) <Maria.Fry@state.de.us>
Subject: Auditor of Accounts Contract with Grant Thornton
Thank you for taking the time to speak with me today regarding a contract the Auditor of Accounts office had with a company called Grant Thornton. As we discussed, the purpose of the contract was to investigate an employee who was put on paid administrative leave. That employee was Kathleen Davies. There was no RFP for the contract as seen on the state procurement awarded contracts or archived contracts website. In addition, Grant Thornton does not appear as a state vendor on the website either.
It is my understanding that any professional service in Delaware contracted out by a state agency, based on Delaware state code, must have a Request for Proposal if it is over $50,000.00. I do not see this was done by AOA for this contract.
I looked on Delaware Online Checkbook and found 12 payments from AOA totaling $120,526.89 between the dates of 10/10/2016 to 8/18/2017. Those are in an attached spreadsheet pulled from Delaware Online Checkbook. As well, I took screenshots of what appeared on the online checkbook as well.
I have learned the contract gave AOA the ability to edit the work product which I found to be very unusual but as I said in our conversation, I do not have a copy of that contract so I am not able to verify that.
Thank you for looking into this and for all you do!
The next day, Maria Fry responded:
Fry, Maria (OMB) <Maria.Fry@state.de.us>
Aug 2 at 10:44 AM
To: Kevin Ohlandt
Good Morning Mr. Ohlandt,
Thank you for contacting me by phone yesterday and following up with the information you provided me by email. The information you seek is not available through public access, therefore, a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) Request Form must be filled out and submitted to the Office of Management and Budget.
Below is the link for this form with additional instructions for submitting it.
As stated on the website, more information on this process can be obtained by the OMB FOIA Coordinator, Bert Scoglietti at 302-739-4204.
State Contract Procurement Officer II
100 Enterprise Place, Suite 4
Dover, DE 19904
I appreciated Maria Fry (now Bagley I presume) getting back to me so quickly but I didn’t think a simple FOIA would do much when I was actually registering a complaint against the Auditor of Accounts office. I was not familiar with Mr. Scoglietti at OMB but I have talked with the head of OMB, Mike Jackson, several times.
Kevin Ohlandt <email@example.com>
Aug 2 at 11:07 PM
To: Fry, Maria (OMB), firstname.lastname@example.org
Good evening Maria,
Thank you for your reply. I’m not really looking to get information but rather to report a violation of state law. Who is the enforcement agency that would handle a complaint like this, when no RFP goes out for a contract over $50,000? I would think, if I am reporting this, there would be some type of investigation. These are taxpayer dollars that are at stake here. There has to be some type of accountability otherwise all state agencies could go rogue and circumvent state code and get whatever contracts they want.
I guess including Mike Jackson in the email helped because the next morning I received an email from Robert Scoglietti:
Scoglietti, Robert (OMB) <robert.Scoglietti@state.de.us></robert.
Aug 3 at 10:47 AM
Mike Jackson asked that I reach out to you on your inquiry to him regarding the Auditor’s office engagement with Grant Thornton. He and I discussed this morning and certainly understand the concerns raised in your email. With other state agencies the complaint would be directed to the Auditor’s office, of course that would not work in this situation. We would suggest contacting the Attorney General’s office as we believe they would have investigative authority for this matter.
Director of Policy/External Affairs
At this point, since OMB was stating this would normally go to the Auditor of Accounts office but since I was lodging a complaint against AOA, I should take it to the AG’s office. Who better than Delaware Attorney General Matthew Denn?
Kevin Ohlandt <email@example.com>
Aug 3 at 12:07 PM
To: Matt Denn
CC: Jackson, Michael S. , Scoglietti Robert (OMB)
Good afternoon Attorney General Denn,
I wasn’t sure which division of the AG’s office would handle this so I am sending this to you. If you could please let me know which area would look into the below matter.
I will be forwarding another email I received this morning from Mr. Scoglietti as well. I am looking for the Attorney General’s office to look into the below matter with the Auditor of Account’s office.
Attached are what I sent to Ms. Fry at the procurement office the other day.
Thank you, and please don’t hesitate to contact me if you need further assistance.
Less than an hour later, Matt Denn had read the email and forwarded the information to Sonia Augusthy who oversees the Office of Civil Rights & Public Trust at the Delaware Department of Justice.
From: “Augusthy, Sonia (DOJ)” <sonia.Augusthy@state.de.us></sonia.
To: “firstname.lastname@example.org” <email@example.com>
Sent: Friday, August 3, 2018 12:54 PM
Subject: Auditor of Accounts Contract with Grant Thornton
Good afternoon Mr. Ohlandt,
Attorney General Denn has forwarded your emails to me. I will be handling this matter.
I will review and get back to you, more fully, next week.
Deputy Attorney General
Director, Office of Civil Rights & Public Trust
Delaware Department of Justice
820 N. French Street
Wilmington, DE 19801
Over the weekend, I mulled it over about contacting Jessica Bies with this information. But in the end, I felt since she was already working on an article about the Grant Thornton report, she should know some more information. So I called her and she called back Sunday evening. As well, I forwarded her the emails sent last week to procurement, OMB, and the AG’s office:
After reading Bies article today, I was shocked to see she not only didn’t write about the procurement issue or even bother to check with Wagner’s office to see how much editing control they had over the Grant Thornton report. So I called her this morning. I asked her why she didn’t mention a procurement issue that was being looked into the AG’s office. She claimed because she didn’t know if AOA had other engagements with Grant Thornton. I asked if she called them to find out. She said no. I asked why she didn’t write about the possibility Wagner’s office could have had editing power over the report. She said she didn’t see the contract for it. I advised Bies I felt this was a very biased article and I was not happy with it.
By this point in time, I had many questions so I sent the following email to State Auditor Tom Wagner and his assistant, John Fluharty over at AOA. I also included every legislator, the Governor, Mike Jackson, Matt Denn and anyone else I could get on there.
So far, no Delaware legislator or anyone listed in the email I sent today has responded. Not one. I will get into why a bit later.
The bottom line is this: certain people in the Auditor of Accounts office didn’t like Davies. They conspired against her and played every sneaky snake trick in the book. Davies, who was doing a great job with audit reports, was unpopular with folks in the office who wanted to run a side business and do their politicking during state office time. At least one of them released the Grant Thornton report (or a variation thereof) to the News Journal. It was not Davies and it was not Grant Thornton so it had to be someone within the Auditor of Accounts office. Since Davies hearings with the Merit Employee Review Board are still ongoing, and anything associated with her termination would be a part of those hearings, one or more persons in the Auditor of Accounts office are interfering with official hearings and possibly election tampering by a state office.
We learned from the News Journal article that State Auditor Tom Wagner had a sexual harassment investigation going on prior to the time Davies was put on leave. Please don’t tell me Wagner wanted to get rid of her because of retaliation over allegations of sexual harassment. Because that is horrendous on the best day. Even if it didn’t amount to anything, it sounds like Davies did what she was supposed to do. Especially in this era of #metoo. But I digress.
There is also the matter of Andrena Burd. She was the audit manager in charge of the Unit-Count audit. I know this because she had just been promoted to audit manager shortly before that audit came out and it was talked about in the unemployment report that the person coming after Davies over that report was a new audit manager. The very same Andrena Burd who used her maiden name last week during a State Auditor debate to ask how Davies would possibly get along with her peers if she won the election. The same Andrena Burd who would assuredly be a witness for the MERB hearing. The same Andrena Burd who leaked bad information to the News Journal in 2016 when reporters James Fisher and Matthew Albright wrote a smear article against Davies. But the News Journal won’t talk about that. She is also the same Nancy Drew wannabe who was running around recording every possible conversation she had with Davies while at work, with no authorization whatsoever. The report from the unemployment hearing said her testimony was based on hearsay with no evidence to support her claims.
State Auditor Tom Wagner was hardly ever in the office. This was documented based on testimony at the unemployment hearing. Davies was his second-in-command. Wagner gave her delegation of authority and then played Monday morning quarterback when SOME employees used Wagner to get her out of the office. The idea that she abused power in that office is preposterous. Davies herself has publicly said employees at AOA would work on second jobs or do political work while they were supposed to be performing their work for the state.
Bies seems to have a very short memory, because she wrote how the News Journal requested Davies MERB hearing be open to the public. What she seems to have selectively forgotten was that Kathy McGuiness wanted the MERB hearing public and the News Journal openly chomped on the chance to blast Davies (again). In her article, Bies states “open government experts” have been clamoring for Davies termination status to be resolved before the Delaware Primary. Who are these “experts” Bies is talking about? Since she didn’t name anyone, I can only assume she is talking about Kathy McGuiness who the News Journal loves to write good things about or Dennis Williams who went after Davies over the report last week at a forum.
Let’s talk about Kathy McGuiness for a moment. We have an interesting situation here. Because she claims she doesn’t owe anyone favors from this campaign.
Delaware Republicans want James Spadola in the office because they don’t want to lose control over the one office in Delaware they had control over the past 30 years. The same office that seems to be ripe with controversy pre-Davies and post-Davies. The same State Auditor who spent more time out of the office than in it the past seven years. So the Republicans seem to be perfectly okay with throwing anyone on the ballot. So what if they are not even remotely qualified for the office.
Meanwhile, the Delaware Democrat leadership is hell bent on getting McGuiness in there because she is friends with Pete Schwartzkopf. How many Delaware Dems are even remotely aware of the deal Schwartzkopf made with the Delaware AFL-CIO? That if they endorsed McGuiness he would make sure they got a building at the Port of Wilmington. Yeah, didn’t want that dirty little secret to get out, did you? So much for not owing anyone there McGuiness! This is just one of many reasons why the thought of you stepping one foot into that office should scare the living hell out of every Delawarean in the state! The AFL-CIO shouldn’t be trading endorsements for political favors. For Delaware Dems, you should see this as just another reason why you should remove Schwartzkopf as Speaker of the House.
And the third car in this race seems to be the Auditor of Accounts office. To be more precise, those who conspired to get Davies out of there. They are scared to death of Davies getting elected. It is my contention they will do absolutely anything they can to make sure that doesn’t happen. They have lied, they have gossiped, they have recorded, they have collaborated with the News Journal in making sure their side is THE side, and they have broken laws. Procurement laws. Releasing confidential documents. No court in America will go after the News Journal. But using taxpayer money to create a report so bad it wasn’t even admitted into evidence at an unemployment hearing, breaking procurement laws, and then sending that report to the News Journal? Those are some new lows. But when you have editing power over a report about an employee, that is very concerning. They could have made that report look however they wanted. They had enough time to plot and scheme to do just that. The same report Davies couldn’t get through subpoenas but it just happened to slide into the hands of the News Journal. How convenient.
At this point, I still fully endorse Kathleen Davies for the Delaware State Auditor. If you want the real deal and not all this hocus-pocus coming out of the News Journal, vote for Kathleen Davies on September 6th and then again on Election Day. Don’t believe the News Journal. They lost all credibility when it comes to Kathleen Davies when they wrote a smear article about her two years ago. They have it in for Davies. Why? Because they are not credible. They swear their allegiance to the power structure in Delaware. They come out with some good stuff but their handling of Davies and their continual victim shaming her has left a bad taste in many Delawareans’ mouth. Meanwhile, if elected, we know Davies will actually come into the office. Something Tom Wagner has not done.