Delaware auditor's daughter defends work as trial continues

By Craig Anderson
Posted 6/22/22

DOVER — A witness at her mother’s trial, Elizabeth McGuiness testified on Wednesday about her duties and time spent working in the Delaware Auditor’s Office.

Elizabeth McGuiness …

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Delaware auditor's daughter defends work as trial continues

Posted

DOVER — A witness at her mother’s trial, Elizabeth McGuiness testified on Wednesday about her duties and time spent working in the Delaware Auditor’s Office.

Elizabeth McGuiness said she took on multiple tasks while serving as a casual/seasonal employee, including, among others, editing materials, PowerPoints, social media, graphics and newsletters. At times she traveled with her mother, State Auditor Kathy McGuiness, to events, providing information to the public and more.

Ms. McGuiness is charged with conflict of interest: violation of the state officials’ code of conduct, felony theft, misdemeanor structuring: non-compliance with procurement law, misdemeanor official misconduct, and felony theft.

After being indicted in October 2021, Ms. McGuiness pleaded not guilty to all charges.

The Delaware Attorney General’s office has accused Ms. McGuiness of nepotism in regard to the hiring of her daughter and her daughter’s friend Virginia Bateman, who earlier testified in the trial.

While attending the College of Charleston, Elizabeth McGuiness said she was able to work remotely by using her personal email account. She didn’t need to log onto a state email account to work and worked through a public VPN connection, she said.

While Elizabeth had access to a state vehicle, she said Ms. Bateman predominately drove the vehicle that transported her and her mother. The vehicle would also be used during the work day in Dover to run errands, Elizabeth McGuiness said.

She said she banked hours after working long shifts at the Delaware State Fair, allowing them to count those hours in future pay periods when they didn’t reach the maximum.

Defense attorney Steve Wood showed a bevy of emails showing work details, projects and assignments with which Elizabeth McGuiness had been tasked.

When it came to beginning her job, Elizabeth McGuiness said she was treated poorly before getting to know any auditors. They “had gotten a distaste” for her and Ms. Bateman early on, she said.

When it came to automatic deposits for work pay, Elizabeth McGuiness said they went into a bank account that had had her mother’s name on it for about 10 years. Kathy McGuiness never asked her daughter for any money out of the paycheck, she said.

The morning session centered around My Campaign Group owner Christie Gross and the entity’s connection to the Auditor’s Office.

Mr. Denney provided multiple invoices billed to the Auditor’s Office for communications and policy services. Multiple payments were for less than $5,000.

According to Ms. Gross, Ms. McGuiness pushed for an audit on how the state was spending its CARES Act money, which the governor and attorney general didn’t want to do.

“Her mission was (to) raise the relevancy of the office,” Ms. Gross said.

“The work continued to grow. I was not happy with the direction of the projects ...

“It was an environment (that) I just didn’t want to be a part of.”

Among the work, according to Ms. Gross, was revising a Joint Finance Committee report that was eventually returned to its original form, which she said was substandard.

The trial, overseen by Judge William Carpenter Jr., is scheduled to continue at 9:30 a.m. today.

Ms. McGuiness, a Democrat, was elected to office in 2018 and has filed to run for the office again. Janice Lorrah, a Republican, has also filed to run. The General Election will be held on Nov. 8.