Delaware Auditor Sentenced After Conviction for Public Corruption

Common Cause Delaware Urges Creation of Inspector General’s Office

This morning, Delaware’s elected state Auditor, Kathleen K. McGuiness was sentenced on two charges of public corruption. The charges of official misconduct and conflict of interest resulted from hiring her daughter to work for and report to her – and allowing the young woman special advantages not offered to other employees. 

McGuiness is the first statewide-elected official ever both criminally charged and convicted while in office. After her conviction in July, she refused to step down, despite widespread calls for her to do so, and the House Speaker refused to initiate an impeachment hearing. The Governor called McGuiness “unfit for office” and was expected to remove her after sentencing. However, she avoided that fate by submitting her resignation last night, effective November 4. McGuiness had intended to run for reelection, despite conviction but she cannot do so because she lost the primary.

The jury also convicted McGuiness of “structuring” state contracts to avoid public oversight, but the judge overturned its decision. She was acquitted of felony theft and felony intimidation.

Statement of Common Cause Delaware Executive Director Claire Snyder-Hall

“Public service is about serving the interests of the common good.

For an Auditor to be convicted of official misconduct and conflict of interest is particularly egregious because it is a violation of public trust. Delaware’s Auditor is supposed to protect our taxpayer dollars from misuse, not use them to benefit her own family members. Our state officials are supposed to act in the public’s interest, not their own.

Delawareans shouldn’t have to wonder what our elected officials are up to, or whose interests are being served. We deserve to have confidence that our tax dollars are being well-spent, and that our government officials are serving our interests, not their own interests or other private interests.

That’s why Common Cause Delaware strongly supports the creation of an Inspector General’s office in the First State. Last spring there was bipartisan legislative support for creating an IG that is independent, non-partisan, and appointed on the basis of professional qualifications, rather than simply elected. Sadly, however, the bill was not allowed onto the House floor for a vote.  We need an IG that focuses on exposing public corruption in state agencies and state-funded entities, so that voters can be more confident that public officials are serving the public’s interests, rather than their own.

Moreover, although our state’s conflict of interest laws prohibit nepotism, it would be beneficial to amend the laws to mention that violation explicitly, so that no one can ever again claim that directly hiring and supervising one’s own family member is acceptable.”