We may need an auditor to audit the state auditor’s race.
That’s because the contest is turning into a war of extremely angry words between the incumbent DFLer, Rebecca Otto, and the Republican’s endorsed candidate, Pat Anderson, who held the job until being defeated by Otto four years ago.
The Republican Party’s chairman, Tony Sutton, who was the deputy auditor under Anderson, is also firing accusations at Otto.
Start with Sutton, who accused Otto in a statement this morning of “lavish spending” while attending meetings in various parts of the country. Based on information he says the party received through a data practices request, Sutton says that “Otto and a top deputy spent thousands of dollars on lavish hotels and routinely exceeded the state’s maximum reimbursement limit on meals.
But Otto countered Sutton’s news release, with one from her own campaign She claims that Sutton’s numbers “are all wrong” and noted her “corrections” in a marked-up red-ink version. She says that numbers in Sutton’s statement about days traveled “was over-stated by 67 per cent.”
“Tony Sutton has made more errors in the numbers – again, just like he did as Deputy State Auditor under Anderson,’’ Otto said. “No wonder there were hundreds of millions of dollars in financial errors under Pat Anderson and Tony Sutton. They both have always had trouble with numbers and he is misrepresenting them again, which is no surprise.’’
In her statement, Otto claimed that under Anderson and Sutton, the auditor’s office was highly partisan. Among other things, Otto said she eliminated Sutton’s old $85,000-a-year position.
But no sooner had Otto’s campaign hit the “send’’ button on its electronic statement to media outlets than Anderson fired off a statement to the media.
Anderson said Otto was “patently false’’ in claiming that some of the out-of-state travel she took was a requirement of her job.
Otto was traveling, Anderson said, at a time when Gov. Tim Pawlenty and House Speaker Margaret Anderson Kelliher issued an out-of-state travel ban.
“As an independent constitutional office, Otto was not legally bound by these travel bans,’’ Anderson said. “Instead, she ignored the austerity measures the rest of the state was imposing all around her and arrogantly took advantage of out-of-state travel at a time when the state was, and still is, broke.”