Former state auditor candidates now coworkers

Kathleen Davies again working in office after termination, losing election bid
March 20, 2019

A state board has determined a former employee of the Auditor's Office, who was later a candidate for state auditor, should not have been fired from her job in 2017, and should instead be reinstated.

Since Jan. 2, however, Kathleen Davies said she has been working in the state Auditor's Office as chief administrative auditor, the same position she held when terminated. Davies declined to comment further on the Merit Employee Relations Board decision signed March 4.

Former state Auditor Tom Wagner placed Davies on paid leave in 2016, after an investigation into unethical conduct, according to the board's decision. Davies was terminated Dec. 17, 2017, and she appealed eight days later.

The original complaints against Davies were brought to light in 2015 by several employees who secretly recorded Davies and then went to the deputy director of the Office of Management and Budget with their concerns, according to the board decision. Wagner was notified about a year later by the OMB director who informed him about complaints against Davies.

In its decision, the board states Davies withheld information and exceeded authority, but only one board member said Davies should be terminated. The other two said she should be suspended without pay for two months. The decision states Davies is entitled to back pay after her two-month suspension without pay, but not reimbursement for attorney's fees.

Davies was hired by Wagner in 2011 to serve as his second-in-command in order to free him up from the day-to-day management of the office, the decision states.

“At some point, the board believes that the grievant crossed a line and was no longer acting merely as a keeper of the gate. For that transgression, a majority of the board believes some disciplinary action short of termination is appropriate,” the decision states.

Davies ran for Auditor of Accounts in 2018 but lost in the Democratic primary to current state Auditor Kathy McGuiness. McGuiness confirmed that Davies has been working in the office since Jan. 2 with the same title and pay. The Office of Management and Budget lists her most recent salary as $121,005.