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Wright Co. ‘surprised’ to be named in lawsuit
Feb. 15, 2016

Ivan Raconteur

WRIGHT COUNTY, MN – Wright County is among three named in a lawsuit filed by State Auditor Rebecca Otto Feb. 4 regarding the authority to conduct county audits.

Becker and Ramsey counties, and the State of Minnesota were also named as defendants in the suit.

Otto issued a press release stating:

“During the last hours of the 2015 legislative session, the legislature passed a law that attempted to diminish the core function of the Office of State Auditor, which is to audit counties on behalf of the people of this state. This office has been auditing counties since the constitution created the state auditor as an executive branch officer elected by the people.

“The legislature was warned before the bill was passed that any effort to privatize our office’s oversight would create chaos and confusion.

“Unfortunately, that is exactly what has happened. Counties have now challenged the constitutional authority of this office, and I have been forced to defend the Minnesota Constitution and the taxpayers through legal action.”

Otto also stated: “The defendants in the lawsuit are Wright, Becker, and Ramsey counties — three of the 50 counties which have refused to agree to allow the OSA to conduct their audits — as well as the State of Minnesota. The lawsuit . . . asks the court to find that the privatization legislation, as enacted, does not interfere with the OSA’s authority to audit counties. If the court cannot do so, we asked the court to strike down the law as unconstitutional.”

Wright County provided the following statement in response to Otto’s suit:

“Wright County is surprised and confused to learn that we have been named in a lawsuit brought by State Auditor Rebecca Otto. Wright County has been acting in good faith in its dealings with the Office of the State Auditor (OSA).

“The OSA is currently conducting Wright County’s 2015 end of year audit. We have willingly provided all documents and information requested by OSA staff to facilitate the audit process.

“All dealings between county representatives and onsite OSA audit staff have been very cordial and professional.

“Given the positive nature of these recent interactions, we are surprised and confused to learn that we have been named in a lawsuit.”

During the Feb. 9 board meeting, Commissioner Charlie Borrell asked Chief Deputy Attorney Brian Asleson if he knew why Wright County and the other two counties named in the suit had been singled out.

Asleson indicated he did not know the reason.

The board conducted a closed session at the end of the Feb. 9 meeting to discuss the pending litigation.

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