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Delaware’s former auditor sues state over dismissal

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(The Center Square) — Delaware’s former auditor filed a federal lawsuit against several state officials, alleging constitutional violations and slander related to her resignation amid public corruption charges last year.

The lawsuit filed by Kathy McGuiness, a Democrat, alleges that Frank Robinson, a chief investigator in the Delaware Department of Justice and former state prosecutor Mark Denney — who oversaw the public corruption case against her — of violating her constitutional rights and defaming her by making false public statements.

In the 26-page complaint, McGuiness alleges that Robin “knowingly” drafted an affidavit of probable cause for the charges against her “filled with half truths and false statements.”

“As a direct and proximate result of Defendant Robinson and other unknown members of the Department of Justice’s unlawful actions, Plaintiff McGuiness has suffered irreparable harm, including the loss of her fundamental liberty interests entitling her to declaratory relief and damages,” McGuiness’ attorney Ronald Poliquin wrote in the lawsuit.

McGuiness is seeking monetary judgment against Robinson and other state law enforcement officials for allegedly using false information to obtain a search warrant for the Office of the Auditor of Accounts as part of their investigation.

The slander allegations stem from an October 2021 press conference where Denney and Jennings allegedly “made false statements” that McGuiness had provided “structured political payments” to a consulting firm “to avoid oversight by the state.”

McGuiness lost her reelection bid to Lydia York in the September 2022 Democratic primary for the auditor’s seat, following months of scrutiny stemming from the public corruption charges.

Last July, a jury found McGuiness guilty of three counts, including illegally structuring a consulting contract at the auditor’s office for a consulting firm that worked on her 2018 campaign.

She resigned last October after a judge sentenced her to probation for misdemeanor official misconduct and conflict of interest convictions related to hiring her daughter. She was fined $10,000, according to authorities.

McGuiness is appealing her conviction before the state Supreme Court.

Delaware Attorney General Kathy Jennings, a longtime prosecutor tapped as the state’s top law enforcement official in 2019, is also named a defendant.

Jenning’s spokesman Mat Marshall dismissed the lawsuit as “yet another sad, desperate, and wasteful attempt by the ex-Auditor to change the consequences of her actions.”

“We’ve heard this tirade before. It was rejected and she was convicted by a jury of her peers,” he said in a statement. “That she continues to proclaim her innocence is not news.”

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