Strickland asking why lottery audit delayedWritten by Associated Press | | email@example.com
Gov. Ted Strickland is asking the state auditor to explain why a performance audit of the Ohio Lottery won’t be completed in the coming weeks as initially expected.
Auditor Mary Taylor, the running mate of the Republican who seeks to unseat Strickland in November, began the review in January, with the lottery calling the undertaking unreasonable and unnecessary.
The release of the audit is not being delayed, said Taylor spokesman Chris Abbruzzese.
“Work has not stopped,” he said. “It’s not unusual for timelines to be revised.”
But Strickland spokeswoman Amanda Wurst said it appeared work was finished last month and the process stalled for reasons that haven’t been publicly announced.
She said the audit has been unusual from the start.
“This is the first time that a performance audit has been forced on an agency,” Wurst said.
The review is separate from annual checks of financial statements. Taylor had said she wanted to make certain the lottery is operating efficiently, amid what she described as “heightened risk” for the agency. She pointed to the uncertain nature of gambling revenue, along with the voter-approved constitutional amendment allowing casinos in Ohio’s largest cities.
Taylor’s office will present a draft to lottery officials when the audit is finished and allow them to respond, with their feedback to be included in the final report, Abbruzzese said.
He said office policy says no audits can be released within two weeks of an election.
Taylor in January dropped her re-election bid and became the running mate of John Kasich, a former Congressman who faces Strickland in this fall’s election.
Lottery Executive Director Kathleen Burke had questioned whether the audit was a wise use of taxpayer funds. The lottery will bear the cost, which was estimated $118,000.
A June 18 letter Burke sent to Taylor says that the lottery was told in December that the report should be finished by early July and that the timeframe was changed to August without explanation.
“In summary, I find this delay to be puzzling, irregular, and without reasonable explanation and request that you reinstate the previously provided schedule,” Burke wrote.
The last performance audit of the Ohio Lottery was in 2000, according to the auditor’s office.
Lottery spokeswoman Jeannie Roberts said auditor and lottery officials met June 1, but that she could not reveal what was discussed.
“They gave us a timeline, and we were expecting them to follow it,” Roberts said. “We would like to move along with the process.”