Calcasieu Registrar of Voters office hit hard by internal investigation

By By John Guidroz / American Press

Calcasieu Parish Registrar of Voters Angie Quienalty claimed time for hours she did not work, used a parish-owned vehicle

for personal reasons and had her staff run errands for her while on the clock, according to an audit issued Monday by the

Louisiana Legislative Auditor’s Office.

The 27-page report by state Legislative

Auditor Daryl Purpera outlines an internal investigation by the

Louisiana secretary

of state. It stated that Quienalty and her staff did not regularly

keep timesheets for hours worked, and that Quienalty either

had inaccurate odometer readings at the pump or did not document

them.

Quienalty has served as Calcasieu’s

voter registrar since 1995 and was appointed by the Calcasieu Police

Jury. Parish Administrator

Bryan Beam said in an email that the parish “has no legal

authority regarding oversight, discipline, or setting office policies

for the registrar of voters.” The state Board of Election

Supervisors can remove a voter registrar.

Holly Carter, spokeswoman for the Calcasieu District Attorney’s Office, said the audit is being reviewed.

Timesheets

Before April, Quienalty was not in the

Lake Charles office 40 hours a week, and she “came in late, left early,

and took extended

lunch breaks,” her staff said in the audit. The audit showed that

Quienalty did not write down what time she arrived for and

left work, according to payroll documents for pay periods ending

in January, February and September of last year.

Secretary of State Elections Compliance

Unit investigators observed Quienalty on five work days between March

and April and

found that she worked 22.25 hours, but recorded 30 hours of work.

The report indicates that Quienalty found out around mid-April

that she was being watched by investigators. Soon after, she asked

the Secretary of State’s office to increase her annual

leave from earlier time sheets by 4.5 hours.

In May, Quienalty said she would repay 21 hours of paid overtime and asked for those hours to be removed. Quienalty said she

was “having serious personal issues ... and did not document probably as I should have daily.”

The Secretary of State’s office estimated that paying the overtime back would amount to $981. At the time of the report’s

release, the matter was not resolved between Quienalty and the secretary of state.

Errands

Two members of Quienalty’s staff said

they ran errands for her while on the clock, according to the report.

The errands varied

from decorating a restaurant for her son’s graduation party to

doing legal research for a personal acquaintance. In the report,

Quienalty confirmed that her staff ran the errands, using “a

minimal amount of clock time.” The report indicates that Quienalty

used her parish vehicle, a 2008 Ford Explorer, to run errands

outside of work — including picking up her son in New Orleans.

The parish allows its employees to use

parish-owned vehicles for “minimal personal usage” like running an

errand on the way

home from work. Quienalty initially told the auditor’s office that

she only uses the vehicle for work, but upon further questioning,

said she “may have gone from home to the store or mall, but did

not go to the casino or drive all over.”

The auditor’s office found 34 instances from April 2008 through last October where odometer readings were inaccurate or not

written down. An attorney representing Quienalty said “she does not maintain receipts for fuel purchases.”

Response

Quienalty called the investigation

“invasive,” and that it “created a substantial impairment to the

efficiency and morale

of the office.” She said the audit was prompted when a former

employee of hers complained to the secretary of state’s office

and the legislative auditor. She said the inquiry initially

“focused on a missing vacuum cleaner and on a missing plastic

bin.”

“Subsequent to the production of both of these two items, the inquiry shifted to an analysis of ‘policies and procedures’

on ‘leave and attendance’ record-keeping, and on record-keeping for use of a parish-owned vehicle,” she said.

Secretary of State Tom Schedler said in a statement that his office is obligated to investigate “when credible allegations

are brought to my attention.”

The registrar of voters office has four

full-time employees and “several temporary employees,” according to the

report. Quienalty

said three full-time workers are civil service employees who must

“follow the state civil service record-keeping requirements,”

and others are parish employees who follow policies set by the

Police Jury.

“It is impractical, unduly burdensome — and potentially unwise — to attempt to burden the Office with even additional written

policies and procedures,” she said.

Quienalty said the secretary of state’s office did not report that she was at the parish voting machine warehouse on March

27 “unsealing voting machines, verifying vote totals from the machines” and counting ballots.

Meg Casper, press secretary for the secretary of state, said their office knew she was at the warehouse. In the audit, Quienalty

recorded working 10 hours on March 27, but was observed working 6.5 hours. Casper said that Quienalty later explained that

she should have written down 3.5 hours of annual leave time.