The Duluth News Tribune has endorsed GOP candidate Pat Anderson in her bid to regain the state auditor’s post.
The race is a rematch between Anderson, who’d been auditor for four years, and incumbent DFLer Rebecca Otto, who beat Anderson in the 2006 election.
The paper says Anderson, during her tenure, “helped wake up Duluth and other communities about their unfunded retiree health care liabilities.”
The editorial says Anderson’s “report four years ago that gave Duluth and other Minnesota communities motivation, political and otherwise, to take on and to take care of what had become a $3.3 billion statewide problem.”
Otto, though, disputes that interpretation of the facts, saying in a response to the paper:
Your endorsement of Anderson for Auditor was not well founded. You based it on an OPEB (Other Post Employment Benefits) Report (not an “audit”) that was conducted under Anderson and coined it as “proactive.” The only problem is that it was not Anderson who uncovered this issue, and it didn’t draw “ire” from me. The national Governmental Accounting Standards Board issued a new accounting standard at the time that required local governments to reflect not just the annual expense for other post employment benefits, but to account for the long-term liability. She made political hay out of it in her grandstanding, partisan way and tried to sensationalize it. When she issued the report on OPEB, the numbers she reported were estimates or good guesses from local officials on their liability. It was not an accurate reflection of the situation. People need to be able to trust the numbers coming out of government, and that is what I was running on.
And the editorial writers noted “sniping” between the candidates, “with accusations flying in both directions about accounting errors, travel expense ‘scandals’ and alleged mismanagement. The back-biting has even found its way into the courts.”
Otto’s response to the paper on that:
You said that the sniping ended up in the “courts”. Her complaint was not in the courts — it was considered by the Office of Administrative Hearings. Anderson filed this complaint because she wanted to hide the fact that the Office of the State Auditor has been much more productive under my management, conducting 3 times the number of investigations than her administration. Her complaint was totally dismissed, and a data request by the Republican Party revealed that I had opened 4 times the number of files in the Legal/Special Investigations Division than Anderson. She attacked me for travel costs and said she didn’t travel on the state dime but once. A data request revealed this was false — she did, and she stayed at the Coronado Spa and Resort as well as others, and went to Alaska all on the state dime.