Delaware auditor faces primary challenger following misdemeanor convictions

Incumbent Kathy McGuiness and Lydia York are running in the Democratic primary for Delaware state auditor on September 13, 2022. 

McGuiness was elected to the office in 2018. Before becoming state auditor, she served five terms on the Rehoboth Beach City Commission and worked as a pharmacist. McGuiness is running on her record as auditor. Her campaign website said, “Under Kathy’s leadership, the Auditor’s Office has become a nationwide leader in innovation and efficiency. McGuiness has created a new mobile app for Delaware taxpayers to report fraud, waste and abuse, and also created an interactive CARES Act Fund Tracker portal.”

McGuiness was convicted on three misdemeanor charges in July 2022: conflict of interest, structuring, and official misconduct. The charges stemmed from McGuiness hiring her daughter to work in the auditor’s office as other employees’ hours were cut during the COVID-19 pandemic. Following the conviction, leaders in both chambers of the state legislature called on McGuiness to resign. This was the first instance of a sitting statewide elected official in Delaware being convicted of a crime. McGuiness faces maximum sentences of up to one year in prison for each misdemeanor count.

McGuiness said that the charges against her were politically motivated and that it was not illegal to hire a family member. Her attorney said they would appeal the case to the Delaware Supreme Court. “I have a great team so I look forward to working again with them to rectify the situation,” McGuiness said.

York’s professional experience includes working as an accountant with PriceWaterhouseCoopers (then Coopers & Lybrand) and as a tax attorney. York said she filed to run because of the charges against McGuiness. “[R]egardless of your views on the trial and the outcome and all of that all a lot of witnesses testified to a work environment that was described across the board as toxic and it would be one of my primary missions frankly is to make that stop so people can do their work,” she said.

The Democratic Party of Delaware endorsed York in July. Chairwoman Betsy Maron said, “We saw Ms.York’s candidacy as an opportunity to restore the Auditor’s office to its intended function and do away with the political theater that has kept the incumbent at center stage for all the wrong reasons. Her legal, business, and finance backgrounds make Lydia York an immensely qualified Auditor who we are confident will do right by all Delawareans.”

The stated function of the auditor’s office is to “[serve] Delawareans by providing independent objective oversight of the state government’s use of taxpayer dollars with the goal of deterring fraud, waste and abuse through unbiased assessments, including the use of various audits, special reports, and investigations of financial operations designed to ensure statutory compliance while enhancing governmental economy, efficiency and effectiveness.”

Editor’s note: A previous version of this story erroneously listed the Democratic primary as occurring on September 6.