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Incumbent Otto trades charges with challenger Anderson — and GOP chairman — in state auditor’s race

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.”

Comments (4)

  1. Submitted by David Stanton on 07/19/2010 - 06:06 pm.

    It is disappointing to see that so little attention is given to the facts presented by Auditor Otto, and how much news space is given to Republican misrepresentations of the facts. Compare the inaccurate information presented by Minnesota Majority, another specious and inaccurate source for Republican misinformation. It is really time to put the truth in the news. Anderson is a failed auditor and is seizing on another non-issue to make herself heard in the news. $40 for a dinner while out of the office – gee- what are they supposed to do – eat at McDonald’s in their business attire?
    Anderson should sign up for some mathematic classes at the college level, some accounting classes, and some CPA courses. Once she has successfully passed them (which I doubt she can), she can then reasonably campaign for an office she is currently not qualified to hold.

  2. Submitted by Eric Ferguson on 07/20/2010 - 01:47 pm.

    David has a point. This story is about competing factual claims. Just like the story about felons voting illegally for Franken hangs entirely on whether Minnesota Majority’s data is accurate or garbage, this story from here on has to be about who is getting their facts straight. Have Sutton and Anderson caught Otto abusing misusing public money, or are their facts wrong? Just like with Minnesota Majority, if their facts are wrong in the accusations they made, then the issue becomes their credibility.

  3. Submitted by Diana Raabe on 07/20/2010 - 08:53 pm.

    Last year, Rebecca Otto won a National State Auditors Association’s Excellence in Accountability Award.

    Pat Anderson (formerly Awada), whose lax attitude put Minnesotans personal identity information at risk during her tenure in the State Auditor’s office, left a trail of embarrassing errors behind her when she was voted out of office in 2006.

    You do the math.

    This stunt set in motion by Tony Sutton is merely an attempt to steer voters away from the fact that Anderson is a tea party candidate trying to disguise herself as a sensible Republican.

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