Delaware Auditor: Politics played no role in delayed report on investigation

Delaware State Auditor Tom Wagner says politics had nothing to do with an investigation into a program run by a former Republican lawmaker being withheld for release to the public. 

Wagner’s office conducted an investigation into Delaware State University’s use of state funds to reach nearly $1.5 million in no-bid contracts with an HVAC (heating, ventilation and air conditioning) company, according to the Sunday News Journal.

Former State Representative Richard Cathcart oversees purchasing and contract procurement for Delaware State University.  Cathcart and Wagner are Republicans.

Wagner says initially he distanced himself from the investigation conducted by a now-former Deputy Auditor, Robert Hicks.  However, Wagner says “the report was put temporarily on hold because of issues that we had with quality control.”

The state hired an independent reviewer to examine this report, and several others, according to Wagner.  “In this case, the report had 58 comments on quality control, which certainly indicates severe issues and problems with the quality of the work being done,” Wagner says.

DSU has reportedly acknowledged that many of the agreements violated state bidding law and that the work was done without necessary permits.

Hicks told the News-Journal he believed the report was being withheld by Wagner to avoid a public criticism of Cathcart, the former House Majority Leader who decided last year not to run for re-election.  Wagner says that’s not true.

“There was never a question that any report would ultimately be made public,” Wagner says. 

Meanwhile, who “audits” the auditor’s office?  Wagner says a review by peers is conducted every three years, although, the federal government could come in any time.  A financial audit is also conducted annually.

Want a digest of WHYY’s programs, events & stories? Sign up for our weekly newsletter.

It will take 126,000 members this year for great news and programs to thrive. Help us get to 100% of the goal.