And the Rick 'n Carole Chronicles continue: Strayhorn says Perry behind audit of office.
The sniping between Comptroller Carole Strayhorn and fellow Republican Gov. Rick Perry heated up today when she accused Perry of directly orchestrating a "political witch hunt" by getting the state Auditor's Office to investigate her office.
Strayhorn said she had e-mails, notes and other documents that she said "absolutely" pointed at Perry as the reason the state auditor has performed three separate audits, none released, of comptroller's office functions.
Citing what she termed a Perry-led effort last year that stripped her office of two of its more popular programs, Strayhorn said the governor was wasting tax dollars by manipulating the Auditor's Office into conducting the probes. She said the audits, which should have been released last year, gave her agency a clean bill of fiscal health.
Perry's office denied her allegation, and Frank Vito, director of assurance services at the Auditor's Office, said the state conducted only one audit of the Comptroller's Office, which will be released in October.
He said the probe already was under way last year when the Legislature passed HB 7, which requires state audits to look at what relationship, if any, exists between an audited agency and campaign contributions made to the agency's boss.
Perry is in Mexico promoting Texas business. Spokesman Robert Black said the governor was not aware of the auditor's investigation into Strayhorn's office, and pointed out the state auditor answers to a committee made up of the lieutenant governor, the Texas House speaker and other lawmakers.
"If (Strayhorn) has a problem, she should take it up with the Legislature, not with us," Black said. "What's the fuss? If she is not trading tax decisions for political contributions, than what is she worried about?"