State Auditor Otto contracts with law firm over audit change

Published 10:28 am Wednesday, August 26, 2015

ST. PAUL — State Auditor Rebecca Otto has paid out $21,000 in public money on legal fees to a law firm she retained to give her advice about fighting a new audit privatization law, records her office released Tuesday show.

Documents provided to The Associated Press under a government records request show the firm was retained in June. Lawyers assigned to her file bill at rates ranging from $290 to $490 per hour, but she is getting a 15 percent discount under the Fredrikson and Byron contract. The purpose of the firm’s hiring is redacted in an engagement letter provided to AP.

A state vendor database indicates the firm could make up to $171,000 in one year under the terms of the current deal.

Email newsletter signup

The three-term Democrat is engaged in a heated dispute with legislators over a law change allowing counties to outsource financial audits to private companies. Otto argues it will do damage to her constitutional office’s main role because she won’t be able to retain qualified auditors if counties go elsewhere for the required periodic review of their finances.