WILMINGTON — Though charges against Delaware State Auditor Kathy McGuiness were unchanged, additional allegations were included in a superseding indictment returned by a grand jury Monday.
The Delaware Department of Justice sought and received an extension of the timeline of Ms. McGuiness’ alleged official misconduct through March 25, 2022. DOJ claims that the auditor engaged in wrongdoing that began on or about Jan. 1, 2019.
In October 2021, Ms. McGuiness was charged with felony act of intimidation and theft, along with misdemeanor conflict of interest as a violation of the state officials’ code of conduct; misdemeanor structuring as noncompliance with procurement law; and official misconduct.
She pleaded not guilty to all charges. A trial is scheduled May 16.
Authorized by Ms. McGuiness, her attorney, Steven Wood, released a statement Tuesday that read:
“The new indictment, coming the week before the scheduled hearing on our Motion to Dismiss and other motions, is clearly the State’s attempt to remedy the significant deficiencies in the indictment that our motions have identified. Despite the changes in the new indictment, those deficiencies in the charges remain. We look forward to the April 7 hearing on our pending motions.”
DOJ spokesman Mat Marshall declined comment Tuesday.
Regarding the felony act of intimidation charge, DOJ expanded on its allegations Monday.
The reindictment alleges that Ms. McGuiness called an all-staff meeting on or about Feb. 11, 2022, and that “she was displeased that, in her belief, information was leaking from the (Auditor’s Office). She told them that she used to have the staff (yell out loud) ‘Confidentiality!’ and that ‘confidentiality’ means ‘what happens in the office stays in the office.’
“Near the end of the meeting (Ms. McGuiness) warned ‘We are going to have a zero tolerance for negativity.’”
Also, DOJ alleged, an Auditor’s Office employee received a formal, written reprimand on or about Feb. 11 of this year “for, in part, ‘(implying) or directly (stating) that (someone in the Auditor’s Office) was involved in illegal conduct in the work place’; asking an employee ‘if the reason she was leaving the (Auditor’s Office) was because of Auditor McGuiness’ trial in May’; and saying ‘that the office was shady and everything done in the front office is a cover-up for May.’”
Additionally, according to DOJ, “The employee was told their speech was ‘dangerous to morale’ and that they were ‘hereby notified that it is inappropriate to discuss certain topics, including, but not limited to individuals’ court cases’ and the employee’s ‘view on the legality of an individual’s employment.’”
The reindictment also claims that the state auditor chided employees in an all-staff meeting on or about March 2, 2022, for watching her office’s presentation to the Joint Finance Committee without her express permission.
“During the meeting, (Ms. McGuiness) lamented ‘somehow things are floating out of this office,’” it said.
Also, the reindictment stated, “The meeting began with (Ms. McGuiness) and her senior staff initiating a call and response wherein the staff was to answer ‘what is our motto’ with ‘confidentiality!’”
DOJ alleges that, “according to witnesses, the conduct demanding confidentiality and lamenting reports outside the office made employees/witnesses feel uncomfortable.”
“They believed the exhortations (regarded) more than the office’s work and were warnings not to continue to report wrong doing.”