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Mock: Legislative Council looking at opinion on the state auditor

The Legislator who offered the amendment concerning whether the state Auditor had to ask for permission from a Legislative committee to conduct certain audits says it was never about putting constraints on the Auditor.

Rep. Corey Mock (D-Grand Forks) said the Legislative Council is now looking at next steps.

Mock offered the amendment on the Auditor’s budget request to a conference committee. The amendment said Auditor Josh Gallion would have to seek approval from the Legislature’s Audit and Fiscal Review Committee on certain audits. An Attorney General’s opinion says that portion of the budget bill would likely be declared an unconstitutional intrusion by the Legislative branch into an executive branch agency.

Mock said the purpose of the amendment was to facilitate cooperation between the Legislature and Gallion – not about putting limits on him.

"The stealthiest way, the most effective way for us to have done that is by cutting his budget, eliminating staff, and restrict him by a sheer lack of resources," Mock said. "We did anything but that."

Mock said the Legsialture increased staffing levels in the Auditor's office.

"This was about communication and cooperation," Mock said. "That's always been the purpose."

Mock said the Council is now looking at options.

"We need to know whether we should challenge (the opinion) in the state Supreme Court, and have it rule definitively on the constitutionality of it, or simply let the opinion carry the weight until the next session," Mock said.

"We grant the authority to the Auditor," Mock said. "We want to make sure he succeeds in his job. But we also know there are major financial costs and fiscal implications when major audits are initiated."

Mock said state agencies can incur part of those bills.

"We wanted to be more a part of that process," Mock said. "We wanted to know what's coming, work more strategically -- that's always been the intent."

Mock said it’s unfortunate Gallion chose to see this as vindictive – or an encroachment on his responsibilities.

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