Dear Friends,This is what happens to a public servant, less-connected than Andre Bouchard, when they violate public trust.
It appears justice comes for you, unless you’re Chancellor Andre Bouchard and his cabal. He and Strine have never denied corruption allegations. Will they and their Good Old Boy pals at Skadden Arps ever face justice or even a formal investigation? Or do their connections run too deep?
Send in your feedback on this, folks. It’s always welcome and appreciated.
JUDSON Bennett–Coastal Network
State Auditor Kathy McGuiness sentenced for public corruption convictions
The only statewide-elected official in Delaware history to be accused and convicted of crimes while in office was spared prison time and resigned her office on Wednesday.
Delaware Auditor Kathy McGuiness was sentenced to a year of probation, 500 hours of community service, and a $10,000 fine for her misdemeanor conflict of interest and official misconduct convictions, guilty verdicts that stemmed from hiring her daughter to work in the auditor’s office.
Through tears, McGuiness addressed the court during Wednesday’s hearing, thanking her family and supporters, stating that she never intended to betray the public’s trust and affirming that she will continue her effort to “clear” her name.
“I regret that my decision to hire my daughter has been seen as a violation of trust,” McGuiness said.
Prosecutors had asked the judge to sentence McGuiness to 30 days in prison based on her lack of remorse. McGuiness’ attorney argued that a $1,000 fine was sufficient punishment.
A jury found the Rehoboth Democrat guilty after a multi-week trial in July, a proceeding that also saw her acquitted of felony theft charges related to her daughter’s employment as well as felony intimidation charges in which prosecutors said she spied on employee emails and sought to intimidate whistleblowers. McGuiness was also acquitted of a misdemeanor tied to payments made to a campaign and issues consultant through her office.
“We believe there is a message to be sent by virtue of the court’s sentence,” said Mark Denney, the lead prosecutor, during Wednesday’s hearing.
Since her guilty verdicts, McGuiness has presented an unabashed face, claiming that hiring her daughter, who worked as a part-time employee and continued to be paid while she was enrolled in an out-of-state college, was not illegal.
Steve Wood, her defense attorney, called prosecutors’ request for prison time “unjust,” comparing it to other cases where public officials were actually caught funneling public money to themselves and were spared prison time.
“Remember: what we are here to sentence her for today is hiring her daughter as a college intern,” Wood said.
As she unsuccessfully ran for a second term as auditor, a position that is elected statewide and is meant to be a fiscal watchdog over state and school district spending, McGuiness pointed fingers at state lawmakers whose children have been employed by the General Assembly.
“They have never been prosecuted,” Wood said during Wednesday’s hearing.
Prosecutors have punched back at this comparison saying they are not aware of a situation where a public official’s child was both hired and allowed special privileges under their parent’s supervision in state office.
On Wednesday, Wood took the judge through a litany of what he described as “distortions” and “half-truths” by prosecutors regarding the employment of McGuiness’ child and how it compared to other part-time employees. Ultimately, the jury was convinced that McGuiness’ child received benefits not afforded to similar employees in convicting the auditor.
“It is true that she didn’t think hiring her daughter was a crime, and to be candid, she didn’t think that then and she doesn’t think that now,” Wood said, adding that McGuiness intends to appeal her guilty verdicts to the Delaware Supreme Court.
Wood also defended McGuiness’ characterization of the prosecution as political, listing a number of missteps in the prosecution of the case. Those included Department of Justice attorneys and investigators presenting incorrect information in a sworn affidavit and prosecutors failing an obligation to turn over certain evidence to the defense in a timely manner.
“This has hardly been an exemplary prosecution,” Wood said.
Ultimately, presiding Judge William C. Carpenter Jr. opted for no prison time, a sentence of probation and a fine.
“Your lack of good judgment and common sense at times is reflected in the facts of this case and have led you to this day,” Carpenter told McGuiness.
McGuiness lost her reelection bid in the September Democratic primary and her term expires at the end of the year.
A push by Democrats in the state legislature to remove McGuiness was rebuffed largely due to a legislative roadblock created by House Speaker Peter C. Schwartzkopf, a Democrat and longtime ally of McGuiness.
Gov. John Carney’s office has said he could not remove McGuiness from office until her sentencing. During Wednesday’s hearing, Wood said that McGuiness resigned on Tuesday, effective Nov. 4. After Wednesday’s sentencing hearing, she confirmed sending that resignation the day prior.
Later Wednesday, a spokesperson for the governor said McGuiness sent a letter to the governor “this afternoon” resigning effective 4:30 p.m. Wednesday.