Auditing the auditor’s race: Amore, DiZoglio promise transparency within Auditor’s Office

By Adam Spector

Director of Security and Chief Investigator at the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum Anthony Amore—the republican running for state auditor against democratic Massachusetts Senator Diana DiZoglio—pledged to “audit the Auditor’s Office” to ensure transparency.

The state auditor is the chief accountability officer for the state government in Massachusetts, responsible for conducting audits, investigations, and studies to promote accountability and transparency for spending, improving performance, and ensuring the government runs efficiently.

“I care deeply about ensuring the state government has a watchdog to ensure taxpayer dollars are spent wisely. If elected, I will start by launching an independent third-party audit of the Auditor’s Office,” Amore said in a press release

According to a press release from Amore, the current Auditor’s Office has not met the legal requirement to audit all government agencies on time. Per state law, the office is required to complete an audit—detailing how things are working—of each of the Commonwealth’s 200-plus state agencies every three years. 

“As a result, Massachusetts residents have seen avoidable government failures,” said Mark Steffen, Amore’s campaign manager.

“Voters do not benefit from one party, no matter which party it is, controlling all levers of government,” Steffen continued. “That’s how mismanagement and corruption fester. We’ve seen it in solid red states and solid blue states.”

According to Steffen, roughly 68% of state agencies are being audited on time, many of which are not being fully audited every three years.

“[Amore] is going to argue forcefully for reform inside the office to meet its obligations to complete all its audits and get the funding it needs to make sure that happens,” he said. “This includes auditing his own office.”

Amore remains Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker’s sole endorsement in the 2022 election cycle. Connecting Amore to Baker is “key to winning the race,” according to Steffen, as Baker remains one of the most popular governors in the country, citing a 74% approval rating.

“As we’ve seen over almost eight years now with Governor Baker, you have what he calls ‘collaborative friction’—this divided government where you have two teams on the field working together,” Steffen said. “There’s a lot of benefits that come with that… I think that Massachusetts is a great beacon of how bipartisanship can, and should, work.”

Amore commended Baker’s work as governor and mentioned wanting to model his bipartisan approach to elected office after the popular governor.

“Governor Baker and Lieutenant Governor Polito have brought independence to Beacon Hill, and I hope to keep that bipartisanship alive and well if elected,” Amore wrote in an email to The Beacon. “I believe in a two-party government. Checks and balances are something that every one of us learns in elementary school. With the next governor likely to be a Democrat, it will be important that a moderate Republican like me can look over taxpayer spending.”

Amore described himself as an “independent watchdog,” meaning he doesn’t want to inject politics into the job, despite running as a member of the Republican Party.

“A cornerstone of my campaign has been that it is about being professional, not political,” Amore wrote. “I don’t want ideology to get in the way of protecting the taxpayers against waste, fraud, and abuse, nor will I seek to use the power of the office to do anything but measure the performance of the state’s agencies in fulfilling their legally required duties.”

Steffen further emphasized the importance of looking into problems within the Auditor’s Office through a self-described “independent watchdog” candidate like Amore, as it promotes transparency within the position.

DiZoglio—whose campaign staff declined to comment to The Beacon—pledged transparency within the campaign. The press release described a plan to review all agency contracting, starting with the Auditor’s Office, relative to the 25-point inclusion standard adopted by Massport. DiZoglio plans to further analyze and report on state spending with minority-owned businesses and highlight areas that require improvement.

“Massachusetts currently ranks as the least transparent state government in the nation because access has been reserved for the politically powerful,” DiZoglio wrote. “Our team will spend every working hour searching for, reporting on, and preventing financial loss. We will report on what’s going right and wrong, so the public knows what is being done with their tax dollars.”

Each candidate has prioritized the revision of the Office of the State Auditor’s website, as it would increase and promote public access to government agency audits. Both Amore and DiZoglio believe the website could offer transparency to the public that isn’t currently available.

“We need modern, updated methods of tracking fund disbursement and use,” DiZoglio said. “We want the new website to list the amount and percentage, by spending category, of funds appropriated in near real time.”

Amore’s campaign also discussed updating the auditor’s section on the official Massachusetts website with a more user-friendly site. This includes the ability to search with keywords or agency names to learn more about findings and recommendations from current and past audits.

Members of both campaigns anticipate a close race despite it taking place in a blue state. The Massachusetts state election is on Nov. 8. Early voting has already begun.