Wash. State Auditor Candidates Clash Over Character Issue

Sep 13, 2012

Character is quickly becoming a key issue in the race for Washington State Auditor. Republican James Watkins and Democrat Troy Kelley sparred Wednesday over the question of honesty as they debated before a business audience.

Watkins reiterated his attack from last week: that Kelley can’t be trusted because of past civil allegations that he misappropriated millions of dollars. Watkins told the debate audience about a deposition Kelley gave in a 2001 wrongful termination lawsuit in California.

Watkins: “He’s testifying against his employer at the time, American Title Insurance, he’s talking about what he called illegal acts on their part. He was talking about the same exact reconveyance scam that he did. He talked about it as being a violation of law. Yet he’s done the same thing.”

Kelley denies the allegations and notes there are no judgments against him. The cases in question have all been dismissed.

Kelley countered with the suggestion that Watkins has inflated his resume. Kelley questioned Watkins’ claim that he has extensive experience conducting performance audits –- a key job of the State Auditor.

Kelley: “One hundred and fifty performance audits -- that strains credibility. We’ve never heard about any of them. We’ve not heard who the clients were and some may be privileged. We’ve never heard any of the topics of them. We’ve never heard the accounting conventions, any of the auditing conventions, any of the peer reviews. Any of that.”

Watkins specific claim in his campaign literature is that he has conducted more than 150 performance audits and "performance engagements."

This is an open race this year since current State Auditor Brian Sonntag is retiring.

Copyright 2012 Northwest News Network