SFR Pick: Hector Balderas, Democrat
The office: The state auditor oversees not just state agency’s audits but audits for cities, schools, irrigation districts, you name it. All in all, it has oversight of approximately 600 entities. The office also has a special investigations division for performing audits and, under Balderas, a 24-hour hotline for citizens to report waste or fraud.
The gab: Incumbent State Auditor Hector Balderas talks a lot, and he’ll be the first to admit it. Constituents, however, will be glad to hear that much of what’s on Balderas’ mind is plugging the gaps that create the opportunities for waste and fraud.
Beyond gab: Balderas has specific proposals for addressing the problems he’s identified during his first term. He wants public officials with financial oversight responsibilities to receive specialized training. He is pushing for closer oversight of state contracts. He advocates stiffer penalties for the public entities that fail to meet required accounting deadlines and disclosure.
The information: Under Balderas, the auditor’s website has become actually useful, with public access to every available audit.
The sealed legal fight with Attorney General Gary King: Unfortunately, it’s sealed, so details are murky. The gist is that King subpoenaed certain records from the Auditor’s Office in response to a hotline complaint. The complaint was lodged on the hotline set up by Balderas, and was referred by Balderas to the AG to avoid a conflict of interest.
The criticism: Balderas’ challenger, Republican Errol Chavez, has accused Balderas of ignoring hotline complaints. Chavez has not provided any specifics, and Balderas says the allegation is unfounded. While Balderas has been candid about the number of complaints (421 since 2008, more than 160 of which are under investigation) and the nature of them (fraud, conflicts of interest, contracting irregularities, etc.), we’d like to see greater transparency in the future about the agencies under scrutiny, and the outcomes of the investigations.