Did Kathy McGuiness and another powerful Delaware figure work behind the scenes to get someone from the Auditor of Accounts office a new job following the News Journal smear campaign against Kathleen Davies?
In eight days, Delaware will elect a new State Auditor. It is between Kathy McGuiness (Democrat) and James Spadola (Republican). While McGuiness’ has vowed the office would be completely independent, as has Spadola, the lingering plotline of the destruction of Kathleen Davies still has questions. One of those questions surrounds the destination of one of the architects of Davies’ ouster at the Auditor of Accounts office (AOA).
Andrena Burd and John Fluharty were the ones that went to Ann Visalli at the Office of Management and Budget about Davies back in 2016. That event, filled with gossip, innuendo, and massive amounts of unauthorized recordings of Davies led to State Auditor Tom Wagner putting Davies on paid administrative leave. Eventually (a year and a half later), Davies was “officially” terminated from the office.
Burd left AOA in September pretty fast after the Primary when McGuiness beat Davies. According to her LinkedIn account, she landed at Chesapeake Utilities, a gas company headquartered in Dover. But at some point between now and then she gained new employment at Delaware State University as their Internal Auditor. While this, by itself, is not a big deal because she is certainly qualified for the job, the people who may have been involved in this hiring leads to even bigger questions.
Yes, candidate for State Auditor Kathy McGuiness is on the Board of Trustees at Delaware State University. She was appointed to the position by former Delaware Governor Jack Markell. Even Jack himself is waiting to be sworn in on their Board of Trustees.
McGuiness, in many debates and forums, seems to know intimate details about how many employees there are in the Auditor of Accounts office at any given moment. How would she know the internal affairs of an office she doesn’t work at?
During McGuiness’ primary, another associate in the office named Tammy Smith put up Facebook posts begging people to vote for McGuiness. Burd was overheard saying if Davies won the Primary she would have to seek employment elsewhere. Davies did NOT win the Primary. But Burd left all the same. Burd and Fluharty were the News Journal leakers when their reporter Jessica Bies repeatedly blasted Davies throughout the summer.
The ties to Delaware State University and the Davies smear campaign has another strong connection. Kristopher Knight is the Deputy Secretary of State for Delaware. He also worked with Ann Visalli when she was the Director of OMB. Ironically, he also serves on the Governmental Accounting Standards Board. One of Davies’ biggest audits she oversaw was one that blasted the Delaware Sustainable Energy Utility. The audit showed that program costing Delawareans more money than it was supposed to save. Care to guess who has served as Treasurer of that entity since 2012? Kristopher Knight. The Delaware SEU audit ruffled a ton of feathers in state government. It was one of those secrets that the powers-that-be did not want to come out. But none of those have anything to do with Delaware State University.
What Knight does serve on is the Hiring Committee at Delaware State University according to various sources affiliated with DSU. In a transparent world, we would be able to see who serves on various committees at DSU. But we can’t because DSU doesn’t seem to think the public needs to know about who serves on their committees. Which is very interesting given the connections with AOA, Burd, McGuiness, Davies, and Visalli. We must remember, this is Delaware. There is no such thing as coincidence.
I didn’t realize it until just now that I have written about Knight before on this blog. That was tied to the charter school letters Tom Wagner sent to various heads of state organizations in the non-transparent charter school petty cash audit investigation. It is easy to see why Wagner went the quiet route on that because some of them were still doing it two years later. Did Knight do anything when he received those letters when he was the Director of Accounting for the State of Delaware? It doesn’t appear that way. It would stand to reason he would not want it to look like HIS accounting division wasn’t doing their job. As well, it was under Knight’s reign with the Division of Accounting that he oversaw procurement cards. Yes, the infamous p-cards which were the heart of various charter school thefts and audit investigations.
While the McGuiness campaign (in the form of supporter Mitch Crane) has publicly stated she had nothing to do with the News Journal smear campaign against Davies over the summer, I have a hard time believing that. We know McGuiness has been in the same room as Burd and Smith from AOA. McGuiness has boasted about attending all of the Government Efficiency and Accountability Review (GEAR) meetings. We know for a fact Burd and Smith attended some of those meetings in their roles at AOA. It would stand to reason that McGuiness could have met Burd and Smith at those meetings if she had not already. I know for a fact McGuiness was eyeing the State Auditor position in 2016 because she emailed me for my thoughts on the office after the election that year when she lost her bid for Lieutenant Governor. It isn’t exactly a state secret that Burd, Smith and Fluharty wanted Davies gone. How much did the McGuiness campaign assist in that endeavor? And were there deals made in return for Burd’s role in the whole shady mess?
Should we chalk it up to coincidence that Andrena Burd just happened to get an Internal Auditor job at Delaware State University at the same time McGuiness is on their Board of Trustees AND one of the key figures who would have had a stake in getting Davies out of AOA just so happens to be on the hiring committee? Yes, I’m talking about you Mr. Knight! While there are no searchable connections between Knight and McGuiness we must remember this is Delaware where the stench rises in the backdoor meetings. Which we call cell phone conversations these days. Cell phone logs and text messages are not subject to FOIA. This is where the action happens in Delaware. They are untraceable even though many state employees use them to conduct official state business. As well, unless it is a public meeting, we have no way of knowing about the interactions or phone calls between those with a vested interest in destroying another state employee.
If you are looking for transparency from Del State, forget about it. They haven’t posted ANY minutes for their Board of Trustees meetings in 2018. If you are looking for shady connections and side deals, look no further than Delaware. Where cocktails in Appalachia aren’t just a drink but a mirror into government connections and shady deals. There is a network of folks who will destroy someone in an instant should they dare to speak truth. For those who help to cover it up or eviscerate those who seek truth, the rewards are bountiful.