State audit looks at possible violations at Calcasieu Registrar' - KPLC 7 News, Lake Charles, Louisiana

State audit looks at possible violations at Calcasieu Registrar's Office

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CALCASIEU PARISH, LA (KPLC) -

The Louisiana Legislative Auditor's Office on Monday released an audit of the Calcasieu Parish Registrar of Voters Office.

The 27-page audit report outlines a list of alleged violations of state law by the office. It also details an internal investigation by the Louisiana Secretary of State's Office.

Auditors allege that Calcasieu Registrar Angie Quienalty did not keep adequate employment records detailing work hours. Fuel records for the office were also allegedly not properly kept.

Auditors also allege that Quienalty directed staff to perform personal errands for her during work hours. According to the report, some of those errands included driving her son to work, decorating a restaurant for her son's graduation party, filing records for her son at the local Social Security Office and designing invitations for her class reunion, among other reported errands.

Quienalty also allegedly researched parish voter rolls and the Louisiana driver's license database (maintained by Department of Public Safety) to obtain personal contact information of people who were delinquent in paying donations pledged to a local organization.

The audit says that Quienalty also may have used her work vehicle for personal uses.

Additionally, according to the report, the Secretary of State's Office compliance unit reportedly found that Quienalty did not work the hours that were recorded on a time sheet.

Included in the audit is a lengthy response by Quienalty. She said a former employee's accusations ultimately led to the audit.

Quienalty also calls the inquiries of her office "unwarranted." She said despite them, her office achieved a successful election cycle.

"The initial inquiry by both the Legislative Auditor and the Secretary of State focused on a missing vacuum cleaner and on a missing plastic bin. Subsequent to the production of both these two items, the inquiry shifted to an analysis of 'policies and procedures' on 'leave and attendance' record-keeping, and on record-keeping for use of a parish-owned vehicle," Quienalty wrote.

Quienalty disputes many of the findings in her response regarding record-keeping. She also maintains that personal errands were few and far between.

"Personal errands and activities on office time have been intermittent, occasional and inconsequential," she wrote.

Quienalty also suggests that the investigation was a waste of state resources and overlooks the office's successes registering voters and managing elections.

Quienalty's attorney, Ron Richard, spoke to KPLC on Monday.

"It was like they started something so they had to finish it.  So, it's turned into this massive, I hate to say witch hunt, but it was certainly a digging expedition, trying to find something to justify the initiation of the audit in the first place," said Richard.

Richard talked about Secretary of State investigators doing surveillance of her over five days last year.

"After spending God knows how much time and money using multiple investigators and doing surveillance, they came up with 7.75 hours that they think she did not properly account for in her documentation regarding comp or vacation time. Now 7.75 hours alone, it's ridiculous that we're even sitting here talking about, when we're talking about a registrar of voters whose on the job 24 hours a day, 365 days a year," said Richard.

Richard said he is speaking for Quienalty at this point to protect her rights and to assure fairness.

"Not only is she free from any wrongdoing in this matter, it is a tribute to her that in spite of this, these allegations and investigation, her dealing with that, spending her own money defending herself, in the meantime, she was still able to pull off such a smooth election process in a historical vote," Richard said.

Secretary of State Tom Schedler made a statement about the department's investigation on Monday.

In an emailed statement to KPLC, Schedler said, "When credible allegations are brought to my attention in a signed complaint, I am obligated to not only investigate but I am mandated to report my findings to the proper authorities including the Legislative Auditor, the District Attorney and the Board of Ethics," said Secretary of State Tom Schedler. "It is now up to those entities to follow up on the Legislative Auditor's findings and take the proper action. I know this for sure, taxpayers demand responsible government and as the agency that oversees payroll for the registrars statewide, I must pursue complaints such as this. Any insinuation that this investigation was a waste of time and money is misguided." 

The Calcasieu Parish Police Jury on Monday also released a statement on the matter.

Bryan C. Beam, parish administrator, said the Police Jury received a copy of the report on Monday.

"As a matter of information and clarification, the Louisiana Constitution requires the governing authority of each parish to appoint a Registrar of Voters. Once the appointment is made, the Police Jury has no legal authority regarding oversight, discipline, or setting office policies for the Registrar of Voters. The State Board of Election Supervisors is the only agency with authority to discipline or remove a Registrar of Voters. The Police Jury is continuing its review of the full report," Beam said.

The report also includes suggestions by auditors to remedy the findings. We'll have more on the audit as well as Quienalty's responses on later editions. You can view the audit and the responses HERE.

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