Incumbent Kane County Auditor Terry Hunt refuted accusations of being distracted in his duties by having a second job and wasting time in getting $93 million in federal COVID-19 relief funds to those who need it, during an endorsement interview with the Daily Herald this week.
Democratic challenger Penny Wegman agreed with Hunt that financial and accounting skills are needed for the job, but she said Hunt spends too much time outside the office to provide that know-how.
“We have an auditor that is not in the office,” Wegman said. “He has another job. The position may require some expertise, but it’s not coming from him.”
Wegman’s only proof was Hunt’s listing as the controller of Hampshire-based Rotec Industries, and a picture she said she had of his vehicle at the business on Friday, Sept. 4.
Hunt said the job is part-time consulting work.
“I do other work when it’s not on the public’s time,” he said. “I do work in the evenings and on weekends. There is nothing illegal or immoral about taking a second job. There’s nothing about that that causes a conflict for me.”
Hunt said he’s been in the office at the county complex, even through the COVID-19 pandemic, except for two sick days and a weeklong vacation.
Wegman, who currently serves as a Kane County Board member, said Hunt wasted two months of the board’s time in delaying the allocation of federal CARES Act money getting to local businesses, not-for-profits and municipalities. Hunt was the chairman of a committee formed by county board chairman Chris Lauzen charged with researching the proper and legal expense of the $93 million the county received.
The county board ultimately dissolved the committee over growing concerns that Hunt and the other committee members weren’t bringing actionable recommendations to them. Hunt’s committee did provide a framework even as the board moved to disband the group. Several recommendations Hunt’s committee made did become the basis for a new committee the board formed of its own members.
“We did not have the ability to disburse dollars,” Hunt said of his committee. “That job is absolutely, and always was, and will still be, the function of the county board. The task force actually provided a great example. We outlined almost every action the (board’s) committee is following at this point.”
Wegman said if Hunt’s committee was so productive, the board wouldn’t have had to take the unprecedented move of calling for a special vote to disband it. She said the two months the committee fretted over U.S. Treasury Department rules amounted to an “epic failure.”
“While Mr. Hunt would like to take credit for everything that was done, the (board) committee had to start from scratch,” Wegman said. “Whatever benefit (Hunt’s) task force feels they submitted to the county board is inaccurate. They wasted our time.”