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The Questionable Attacks On State Auditor Rebecca Otto

Category: DFL 2014
Posted: 07/18/14 17:44

by Dave Mindeman

Matt Entenza has had a rocky relationship with Democratic politics. But this quest for the State Auditor's position seems a little on the bizarre side.

Yesterday, the wealthy founder of the Minnesota 2020 think tank announced that he would be foregoing public financing in the auditor campaign.

Think about that. The public limit is $417,300 for this usually sleepy down the ballot state wide campaign. A lot of candidates for the office never get close to that kind of spending.

Yet, Entenza obviously intends to exceed that figure. How much? Half a million....$1 million....$2 million?

And groping for issues to use so that he can spend that money, Entenza took Otto to task for this.....

Minnesota State Auditor Rebecca Otto is facing new criticism from political rivals for hosting a national state auditors' convention in St. Paul that was sponsored by accounting firms doing business with local governments.

"The people being regulated should not be paying for lavish events for those doing the regulating," said Dave Colling, a spokesman for rival DFLer Matt Entenza. "Attending parties and events thrown by firms the auditor is supposed to be watchdogging is not how Matt Entenza will run the office."

It would seem that Matt Entenza envisions the State Auditor's office to be a lot more than it actually is. Frankly, having the national auditor's convention in the Minnesota capital city is an honor. And for Rebecca Otto to be the host is more an indication of her competence than some kind of regulatory conflict of interest. She is clearly going to have to deal with these firms, and probably need their cooperation at imes..... she might as well get to know them as well.

The essence of the state auditor comes to this:

The Minnesota auditor oversees and reviews $20 billion in spending of various local governments, from cities and counties to school districts and pensions. The office does not review state agencies, individual income taxes or property taxes. Many local governments do not use the auditor's office, instead hiring private accounting companies to conduct their annual audits.

And that brings me to the Republican candidate for auditor, Randy Gilbert. His "beef" with Otto's tenure is that he thinks she is "soft" on MNsure. That she should be protecting the state from MNsure funding problems.

But as noted above, the state auditor deals with LOCAL governments. State agencies are not in the purview of the state auditor. We have a legal and fully funded Legislative Auditor for that purpose -- and the Legislative Auditor has been looking inito MNsure's situation and reported on it.

If Entenza and Gilbert have to go this far afield to look for "mud" in the auditor's race, then the logical conclusion is that Rebecca Otto has been doing her job.....and doing it well.

I am sure that Entenza money will still have an effect. That kind of bankroll can go a long way to putting out your own version of a campaign narrative. And he will.

But I hope that Minnesota is a little more discerning than that. You don't hear a lot about the State Auditor - and that is the way it should be. Rebecca Otto is quietly looking at the numbers and accounts of the local governments that she is authorized to check on. Her reports are not flashy, they are just accurate.

A lot more accurate than the statements from her opponents.
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