Friday, October 14, 2016

Gold star for Legislative Audit

Posted By on Fri, Oct 14, 2016 at 10:20 AM

click to enlarge TRUTH TO POWER: Frank Arey spoke some. - SOIREE
  • Soiree
  • TRUTH TO POWER: Frank Arey spoke some.
Legislative Audit has been used during the Republican reign for political purposes and I've been critical of that fact. Fair play today dictates a Gold Star Auditor award to the agency  for telling the truth about a Hutchinson administration law evasion.

Michael Wickline of the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette reported that auditors had questioned the constitutionality and legality of contracted pay with Cindy Gillespie for two months before she formally took her $280,000 job as director of the Human Services Department. Gillespie is paid almost $120,000 a year more than the former DHS director. And she got that rate of pay for March and April this year before the legislature approved the higher rate. The trick was worth $49,000 about $23,000 more to Gillespie than the law then allowed.

The Constitution provides that the legislature sets salaries.

The Hutchinson administration tried to argue that somehow what Gillespie was doing during those two months on contract didn't amount to leading DHS.

Credit Frank Arey, counsel for Legislative Audit, for speaking uncomfortable truth to the powerful Hutchinson administration (and Arey is a stalwart Republican of long standing):

But Frank Arey, attorney for Arkansas Legislative Audit, told lawmakers that there were a number of items and activities that occurred during this time period that "makes us feel comfortable with this assertion that she was in fact acting as director.

"DHS supplied us with a stack of documents that they say during this time were executed by other folks and that is in fact true..., but to our way of looking at this that was not inconsistent with her also serving as director at the same time," Arey said. "We feel like the effect of this personal services contract that Ms. Gillespie entered into was to pay her considerably more than this body had appropriated for this position."
Everybody understand this ruse at the time it went down. And everybody understood no legislator would stand in the way. But Audit has upheld its reputation as a neutral arbiter by pointing out the constitutional and legal violation by the Hutchinson administration. It deserves applause because the backbone demonstration might discourage worse in the future.
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