Auditor, Auditor, where’s the State Auditor?
About a month after he blew the whistle on a discrepancy in the State Treasurer’s office, a newspaper has blown the whistle on the alleged workday habits of State Auditor Charlie Janssen.
Janssen acknowledged the accuracy of an Omaha World-Herald report that he sometimes spends more of his Lincoln workday at a sports bar 16 blocks south of his Capitol office.
The 47-year-old Republican also admitted that he’s not perfect but promised that he’s taking immediate steps to change.
The newspaper said its three-month investigation revealed late morning arrivals to work, three-hour lunches and afternoon absences from his office. Such activity could have easily been ignored in a state office that wasn’t really high profile until Lincoln businessman John Breslow was elected in 1991 on the promise that he would become the watchdog of state government.
The Democrat Breslow was the first auditor in 52 years to not be named Ray Johnson. Republican Ray C. Johnson was auditor from 1939 to 1971. Ray AC Johnson, no relation and also a Republican, served from 1971 to 1991.
In a surprise move in 1994, Breslow changed his party affiliation to Republican. He was replaced in 1999 by former state Senator Kate Witek of Omaha, a Republican who changed her party affiliation to Democrat in 2006. She served until 2007 and was replaced by another former Republican, State Senator Mike Foley. He managed two terms without changing parties and is currently Lieutenant Governor.
Republican Janssen, a former state senator, defeated former Senator Amanda McGill, a Democrat in 2015.
Janssen said he sees no problem with the time he spends outside his office, saying his workday is over early because he starts at 5 a.m. at his Fremont home. He also said he conducts business at those lunches and contends the $85,000 annual job is not based on hourly productivity.
Also, there’s no specific state rule on employees drinking alcohol over lunch, but individual agencies prohibit employees from being impaired while at work.
But are we wrong to expect accountability from an elected official who manages an agency with a $2 million plus annual budget?
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