County Auditor Blocked From Auditing Payroll

Imagine how frustrating it would be to get elected to office and then be prevented from performing the duties voters asked you to do.

The Times-Standard reported late last month, that is what happened to Karen Paz Dominguez, a duly elected county auditor and controller in Humboldt County, California. Part of the job she was elected to do is serve as the county’s chief accounting officer and audit its finances and accounts. Since February of this year, Paz Dominguez has been prevented from doing her duties and is concerned that she has not been allowed to access or to view any of Humboldt County’s payroll documents. There is the possibility of severe financial abuse.

With more than 1,000 people on the county’s payroll, she is rightfully concerned. The county had been transitioning the county payroll division from the auditor-controller’s office to Human Resources. Paz Dominguez assumed her office as the county’s auditor-controller, according to the language of the transition documents, would still have the ability to retain access and conduct oversight to ensure that everything was as it should be.

Instead, what she received were multiple roadblocks from both the county and from the Human Resources Director, Lisa DeMatteo. Both have demonstrated what Paz Dominguez described as a level of obstruction that she had never seen before.

According to Sean Quincey, spokesperson for Humboldt County, “…..access to all the county’s monies and accounts for auditing functions within her office’s area of responsibility. The county often uses outside auditors for the county’s books and financial statements,” Quincey told the Times-Standard in an emailed statement. He went on to further explain that each department of the county creates its own financial spreadsheets and documents.

Brian Muir, the auditor-controller for Shasta County, California has the same job as Paz Dominguez and is in complete agreement that having oversight is a part of the job description for their elected office. If there is any sort of malfeasance, it’s the auditor-controller’s job that’s on the line.

According to Paz Dominguez, the job of the auditor-controller is another form of law enforcement. When someone obstructs law enforcement from doing its job, there is a cause for concern.