Stedman Sends Criminal Referral to Dept of Law for Leak of Confidential Audit
By MARY KAUFFMAN
July 20, 2018
“The legislative audit process and the work of the legislative auditor are critical to the legislature’s oversight role of the executive branch and boards and commissions,” said Sen. Stedman. “The confidentiality of audits still in progress must be maintained. I have asked the Department of Law to review the release of a confidential audit and decide whether prosecution is appropriate.”
According to the July 17th referral memo to the Alaska Department of Law, Mike Abbott, CEO of the Alaska Mental Health Trust, was referred by Stedman for potential violation of confidentiality provisions established by Alaska law.
For the last year and a half, the Alaska Legislative Budget and Audit Committee (LBAC) and the Alaska Division of Legislative Audit have been engaged in the performance of an audit of the Alaska Mental Health Trust Authority (Audit: “Alaska Mental Health Trust Authority Asset Management and Other Select Issues; 04- 30090-18”)
LBAC procedures require the auditor to “explain the confidential nature of the report to the auditee when delivered” as per Legislative Budget and Audit Committee, Formal Policies and Procedures (1984). On February 8, 2018, the auditor and the audit team met with several representatives of the AMHT, including Abbott, and explained that the preliminary audit report is a confidential document.
The memo to the Alaska Department of Law revealed that during the audit process, it was discovered the confidential preliminary audit of the Alaska Mental Health Trust Authority had been “leaked” to Anne Hillman, a reporter for Alaska Public Media, by the Mike Abbott, Executive Director of the AMHT.
The alleged violation of confidentiality was discovered on June 5, 2018, when reporter Hillman attended the Legislative Budget and Audit Committee meeting held in Anchorage. The AMHT preliminary audit was on the agenda to be considered in executive session and possibly to be released in final to the public.
It was reveled in the memo that Hillman had previously emailed the auditor on June 4, 2018, and asked for an interview regarding the Alaska Mental Health Trust Authority audit. The auditor suggested she wait until the preliminary audit was released and then read it.
At the Legislative Budget and Audit Committee meeting, it was reported in the memo that Hillman introduced herself and again asked for an interview. According to the criminal referral memo to the Alaska Department of Law, the auditor again suggested Hillman wait until the report was released and made public, since it contained a lot of information that should be read and understood before an interview. Quoting the referral letter, Hillman responded that she knew that already because she had read the preliminary audit. The auditor advised her that it was a confidential document that Hillman should not have access to read. When asked who had provided the copy, Hillman said it had been provided by the AMHT. She then refused to return the confidential preliminary audit report to the auditor.
Alaska law prohibits the misuse of confidential information. The preliminary audit is considered a confidential document and is expressly marked “confidential” on the front cover. Maintaining confidentiality is integral to the legislative audit process.
On the Web:
Source of News:
Representations of fact and opinions in comments posted are solely those of the individual posters and do not represent the opinions of Sitnews.