Mary Connaughton’s No Good, Very Bad Audit

Ms. Connaughton goes on and on about her experience managing finances as a reason she should get our votes for Auditor over Suzanne Bump. However, it looks like her financial management experience was deemed lackluster at best:

What Connaughton does not mention in her stump speech is that while she oversaw the lottery’s finances in the mid-1990s, the agency was the subject of a blistering critique from the man she hopes to succeed, state Auditor A. Joseph DeNucci.

In a 1997 audit, DeNucci accused lottery officials of poor accounting practices that his office said violated state law and cost the Commonwealth more than $1.6 million in lost revenue from July 1994 through June 1996.

The report highlighted what auditors called “questionable transactions, waste, abuse, legerdemain, and mismanagement,” blaming “serious weaknesses” in the agency’s management and accounting practices.

The audit focused primarily on three things: a billing scheme allegedly designed to obscure questionable expenses; an end run around a legislative cap on advertising; and the lottery’s failure to collect millions of dollars owed by stores and others who sell tickets.

Mary Connaughton’s shoddy accounting cost Massachusetts taxpayers $1.6 million.

It looks like Connaughton also has experience shamelessly cooking the books:

The audit uncovered a “doughnut fund,” a method the lottery allegedly used to conceal hundreds of thousands of dollars of expenses. The lottery funneled bills for promotional and entertainment expenses, such as Christmas parties and Boston Symphony Orchestra tickets, to its advertising agency, which then billed the lottery for the same amount under the innocuous heading miscellaneous. That way, individual expenses were not itemized or subject to scrutiny by state officials or the public.

The exposé of Connaughton’s failures goes on, from the aforementioned shoddy accounting and cooking of the books to an inability to collect payments owed and allowing lottery ticket sellers to defraud the lottery.

While Connaughton’s experience managing the Lottery’s finances does not offer a sense of confidence in most of her abilities, she does know something about covering her backside:

Even with all the problems cited in the report, auditors said they were not able to present a complete picture of the lottery’s finances, because agency officials refused to cooperate and turn over requested documents. When lottery officials finally agreed to answer questions, the auditors wrote, their responses were “evasive, nonresponsive” and part of an ongoing pattern of “distortion, misrepresentation, and avoidance of the truth.”

This is a truly scathing look at Connaughton’s experience. I don’t know how someone could have faith in her abilities as a potential Auditor after reading this. Your thoughts, RMGers?

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