Yost: Auditor’s Office Will Only Communicate In Writing With Sheriff Kelly

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Ohio State Auditor Dave Yost said Wednesday he is ordering his staff to only respond to inquiries from Athens County Sheriff Patrick Kelly in writing because of Kelly’s penchant for misstating the auditor’s office position on matters.

The action comes after Kelly wrote a letter Tuesday to the Athens County Commissioners in which he recounts conversations he had with staff at the state auditor’s Athens office. Yost said the letter is not accurate and, according to Yost, is only the latest mischaracterization by Kelly.

Yost said it’s not a problem his office has with other elected officials and that Kelly is the “only one who seems to have trouble with English.”

Kelly, though, said he stands by the letter.

Earlier this month, the county commissioners tabled a recommendation from the Athens County Data Board for the purchase of an iPad for the Athens County Sheriff’s Academy, a police basic training program run by the sheriff’s office periodically. At the time, the commissioners indicated that if Sheriff’s

Academy funds were to be used for the purchase, they wanted to be sure the iPad was actually going to be used for the academy. Kelly has said it will be.

In Tuesday’s letter to the commissioners, Kelly states had he had conversations with state auditor staff members and that “they did inform me and (sheriff’s fiscal officer) Dawn Deputy that if my office submits a bill for what the sheriff declares a justified expenditure from the sheriff’s budget or one of my accounts, neither the auditor or commissioners have the right to deny payment of that bill.”

Yost said Ohio law has a procedure for when the county auditor questions a bill, and that Kelly “knows full well” what the law is. If the auditor objects to a bill, the officeholder who submits the bill is notified and asked to submit more supporting documentation. If the additional information is not provided, then the matter dies. If additional material is provided, but the auditor still refuses to pay the bill, then the officeholder can try to get a court order requiring payment of the bill, Yost said.

Yost said a county auditor can be held liable for paying a bill that shouldn’t be paid.

Kelly, contacted by The Messenger, stood by his description of his conversation with the state auditor’s staff.

“I’m not mischaracterizing anything. I am just repeating what they told me,” Kelly said.

As for Yost’s office responding only in writing, Kelly said he hasn’t gotten a response to a letter he wrote to Yost in August in which he complained of communication problems with the state auditor’s office, alleged that inconsistent advice has been given and asked for clarification of guidelines.

“I’ve never seen an auditor’s office as messed up as the one Dave Yost runs,” Kelly said Wednesday.