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Legislative Auditor stands mostly mute

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Legislative Auditor Roger Norman may be fine with figures but he's wary of words. Norman declined to discuss detailed complaints that were made against him in an anonymous letter to the Arkansas Times.

Norman did provide some records in response to a Freedom of Information request, after referring the request to Frank Arey, the lawyer for the state Legislative Audit Division. Sen. Bill Pritchard, R-Elkins, and Rep. Tim Summers, R-Bentonville, the co-chairmen of the Legislative Joint Auditing Committee, for whom Norman works, said they'd received no letters of complaint about Norman.

The letter to the Times said, for example, that Norman had received a 10 percent pay increase each year for the last three years but did not give the same raise to his employees, although he was authorized to do so. Some years, the other employees of the division got smaller percentage raises than Norman, the complainant said, and this year the other employees are receiving no raises while Norman gets his standard 10 percent. Payroll records provided by Norman make it difficult to determine the truth of these allegations. As for Norman's own pay, the records provided by his office show that he was making $154,899.89 on July 1, 2010, and $170,899.87 on July 1, 2011. (Although these may be the maximum amounts authorized by law, not the amounts actually paid.) Records from the state auditor's office, which issues all the paychecks for state employees, show that in 2012, Norman has been receiving two checks every two weeks, one for $2,853.51 and another for $1,000. The auditor's office doesn't know what the separate checks are for.

The complainant said that the number of offices leased by the Joint Auditing Division around the state, for use by the division's auditors, had increased greatly under Norman, and so had the amount of rent paid. Norman's records show that the division leased four offices as of Dec. 31, 2006, paying total monthly rent of $41,501.71. As of Feb. 23, 2012, the division was leasing 12 offices, and paying a total monthly rent of $54,085.47.

The anonymous correspondent also noted disapprovingly a statement by Norman published in the Legislative Audit Division's latest newsletter: "It is my desire that the Division respond to necessary changes with a deliberate, reasoned and responsible approach, based on sound Biblical and business principles."

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