Wednesday, November 21, 2012

How Do These People Get Elected?

I'm not sure what the voters in Franklin County, Indiana were thinking when they elected Erica Hudson as their county auditor, but it probably had more to do with the fact that she has an "R" behind her name in this rural Republican-leaning county in southeastern Indiana than it did with her qualifications. The Franklin Co. Commissioners asked Hudson to resign in September after the employees she supervised reported that she hadn't been coming into the office all summer. Franklin Co. Treasurer Rebecca Oglesby used the word "malfeasance" to describe the problem with the absentee auditor. The county attorney, John Worth, who is also the Republican Co. Chairman, sent a letter to Hudson asking her to resign, but she wouldn't budge. The problem came to a head when the county got slapped with a $4,000 fine by the IRS because Hudson had instructed her employees not to open the office's mail during her absence. When employees in the office tried to reach her on her cell phone, they got no answer and were unable to leave voice mail messages for her.

After months of consternation, Hudson finally decided to return to work. A short time later, she hired Chadwick Sexton as a part-time employee of the office. The day after Sexton began working in the office, he was arrested on an outstanding warrant from Knox County where he was wanted on charges of theft, operating a vehicle without a license and a probation violation. Sexton was arrested at Hudson's home. Hudson denied that Sexton was living with her and claimed she and her daughter were attending church services when Sexton was arrested at her home. Hudson admitted she performed no background check on Sexton before hiring him, but she said she would do so in the future. She quickly hired him after her first deputy, who had been performing her duties as auditor in her absence, won election as the Franklin Co. Treasurer. Although its Hudson's job under Indiana law to record minutes of meetings of the county commissioners and county council, newpaper reports indicate that she doesn't perform the duty on the occasions when she does attend the meetings. It's unclear to me why the Franklin Co. Prosecutor hasn't brought her up on criminal charges in an effort to remove her from her job. It seems to me she's not only guilty of official misconduct, but she's also guilty of ghost employment if she's drawing a full-time salary for a job she rarely shows up to perform.

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