Speaking of Mid-Central, Rep. Kyle Schoenfish (R-19/Scotland) is speaking of Mid-Central. The Scotland auditor has been circumspect (i.e., silent) about the work his family’s accounting firm did in auditing the books of the scandal-sunk educational cooperative. Last week, Bob Mercer got Rep. Schoenfish to “break his silence” on the matter… or so the overtagging headlines read.
After some Trumpy gas about the “incredible staff” in the Department of Legislative Audit, Rep. Schoenfish really just said he has nothing to say about Mid-Central:
“The reports issued by DLA should answer questions the public may have,” Schoenfish said.
…“Because of the accounting firm I work for, (Schoenfish & Company) and their role and assistance to state agencies in bringing accountability to Mid Central and the fact that their lead auditor Randy Schoenfish is an expert witness in related court proceedings it would be inappropriate to discuss specifics of this matter,” he said [Bob Mercer, “Schoenfish Breaks Silence on Audits,” Black Hills Pioneer, 2017.05.25].
Aside from the reference to his dad as Mid-Central’s lead auditor (hints of, “Don’t blame me! Talk to my dad!”), Rep. Schoenfish’s comments to Mercer represent little advance beyond his sparse previous comments on Mid-Central. Pressed this winter for answers to questions about Mid-Central’s obviously shady finances by his fellow District 19 legislator Senator Stace Nelson (R-Fulton), Rep. Schoenfish said the questions were “fairly easy to address” but never addressed them himself. Now Rep. Schoenfish says the Auditor General’s report addresses those questions… which it doesn’t, because the questions the public has include questions about what Rep. Schoenfish himself knew and did about the illegal activities at Mid-Central. Schoenfish still isn’t saying anything about those questions.
Rep. Schoenfish might do better to cite grant expert Michael Wyland and say that the effort by Mid-Central and others to blame his auditing firm for Mid-Central’s woes is bogus:
Blaming the auditors is highly unlikely to be successful for at least three reasons. First, audits are not designed to uncover criminal activity such as embezzlement. Second, audits are dependent upon management’s representations of the organization’s finances. If management misrepresents the finances with skill, the auditors won’t know it. Third, the auditors in this case noted material weaknesses in MCEC’s financial controls as well as missing or incomplete management reports expected of federal grantees. The 2014 audit prepared for MCEC included a note from the auditors that it was the eighth year material weaknesses had been reported to the MCEC board of directors [Michael Wyland, “This Cooperative’s Defense: ‘Blame the Auditors, Not the Board!” Non-Profit Quarterly, 2017.03.02].
See, Kyle? We did our job, we identified weaknesses, but the folks at Mid-Central committed the crimes. Saying that isn’t that hard.
But hey, like everyone else, Kyle Schoenfish has the right to remain silent.