We are writing in support of our county treasurer, Debra L. Knick, for doing her duty as a constitutional officer of Rappahannock County on behalf of all its citizens and as required by law.
Your article in last week’s paper [“County accounting practices fall under State Police investigation,” May 25] did not disclose that a constitutional officer of a locality is required under State law to report (Virginia Code § 30-138) to the state auditor, the state inspector general and the superintendent of state police “upon the discovery of circumstances suggesting a reasonable possibility that a fraudulent transaction has occurred” involving funds or property under the control of any officer, board, or other agency of the Commonwealth, including local constitutional officers.
As your own newspaper has previously reported, there is more than “a reasonable possibility” that one or more fraudulent transactions occurred in the past year involving the purchase of motor vehicles and other property without the approval of the board of supervisors and without complying with applicable state or local procurement laws, and the possible misuse of county credit cards for making unauthorized purchases and the transfer of property purchased with County funds to other entities.
It is not the treasurer’s job to decide whether or not a crime or other impropriety has been committed. If a constitutional officer of a locality becomes aware of “circumstances suggesting a reasonable possibility” of an impropriety, state law requires that it must be reported to the appropriate state agencies, who then decide whether the matter warrants further investigation, and if so, which agency should be tasked with the investigation.
Virginia Code § 30-138(E) provides that if any constitutional officer willfully fails to do their duty and make the required report, they could be charged with a misdemeanor. Apparently at least one of those three state agencies agreed that there is something going on in Rappahannock warranting further investigation, since the law gives any of the three agencies discretion to investigate or not to investigate a report from a local official.
The fact that the superintendent of state police took the decision to go forward with the investigation confirms that Debra Knick made the correct decision to report the circumstances to the proper state authorities after our board of supervisors ignored her memo about accounting practices, including use of the credit cards.
We commend our county treasurer for discharging her statutory duties as the law requires under these difficult circumstances. As your newspaper previously reported, she brought these improprieties to the attention of the board of supervisors, who inexplicably took no formal action to investigate her report other than questioning who “leaked” the February 15th memo — it was never even put on the board’s agenda for discussion. The focus should be on those public officials or employees who are actually under investigation by state authorities for possible improprieties, not on Debra Knick.
Amy L. Christopher, W. Page Glennie, Lisa Glennie, Walter Longyear, Robert Beattie, Robert Klaus, David T. Kerr, Jeffrey E. Knight, Regina H. Knight, Michael Cioffi, Barbara Cioffi, Kirby Thornton, Evelyn Kerr, Terry Dixon, Mary Dixon, Edward W. Goshorn Jr., Ted Pellegatta, Benjamin G. Mason, Phillip S. Rosemond, Chris Gros, Thomas A. Woolman, Marian S. Bragg, Mary Lou Pagano, Timothy J. Pagano, Demaris Miller, Tricia Nicodemus, Jason Pickett, David L. Konick, Elisabeth Gyorgy, Melissa Dawn Dodson, Lisa Ann Dodson, Cynthia McGhee, Brian Dodson, Amy Dodson, Shawn Dodson, Jean A. Dodson, Lewis M. Dodson, Cathy Pullen, Sharon M. Dodson (not the commissioner of revenue), Deverell Pederson, Ellen Berg, Sallie C. Thornhill, Kenneth A. Norman, Floyd T. Grigsby, Laura L. Grigsby, Bart C. Ciuba, Douglas C. Seale, Rich Shoemaker, Donald Mills, James I. Mills, Stephen M. Chapman, Gary Whorton, Roger Lee Hitt, Douglas Rickett, Richard W. Wood, James Jacobs, Bertha Jacobs