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State auditor seeks records about pay and benefits of IT official

September 21, 2018

State auditor seeks records about pay and benefits of IT official

CLEVELAND, Ohio — Ohio Auditor Dave Yost took the unusual step this week of issuing a civil subpoena to Cuyahoga County to obtain records for an ongoing audit rather than follow the more common practice of simply asking for the records.

The audit, which seeks emails from County Executive Armond Budish, was served 21 days before early voting begins in an election in which Yost, a Republican, and Budish, a Democrat, are on the ballot.

The subpoena seeks emails that Budish sent or received between Jan. 1 2017 and July 21, 2017 related to compensation and/or benefits for the county’s deputy chief information officer, James Hay.

In a statement released Friday, Budish told cleveland.com that his staff has yet to determine if any emails relate to compensation or benefits for Hay.

“It is my understanding that the auditor is looking at whether I personally authorized the $15,000.00 bonus payment to James Hay. We informed the auditor’s staff that I was not involved,” Budish said in the statement.

Bonuses and perks awarded by the Budish administration have been a source of controversy, as the county’s internal auditor and the county prosecutor have concluded that the Budish administration had improperly awarded them.

Yost’s office said Friday that it has issued civil subpoenas while performing other routine audits, but was not immediately able to provide any examples.

Yost, who is term limited as auditor, is running for Ohio attorney general.

Budish is seeking a second term as county executive.

Yost’s campaign did not respond to a call for comment on the possible political implications of the subpoena.

The county has received more than a dozen subpoenas as part of an ongoing criminal investigation of the county’s IT Department. The civil subpoena issued by Yost is unrelated to the criminal probe. The usual result of an audit that finds misspending is a finding for recovery of money rather than criminal charges.

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