The daughter of Delaware Auditor Kathy McGuiness testified Wednesday that she worked all the hours she billed state taxpayers while working in her mother’s office for the past few years.
Elizabeth McGuiness, who goes by the name Saylar, is a key witness in state prosecutors’ case against McGuiness, who is fighting two felony public bribery charges and three misdemeanor charges for actions she took after her election to office. position in 2019.
Elizabeth McGuiness’ employment is relevant to the conflict of interest tort, as well as the felony theft charge McGuiness faces.
Elizabeth McGuiness, 20, told the jury she started part-time work in the auditor’s office in the spring of 2020 as she graduated from high school and prepared to start college in South Carolina. She told the jury that she continued to work in a limited way during her studies and continues to work in the office today.
Prompt with questions from Deputy Attorney General Maria Knoll, Elizabeth McGuiness told the jury that she did not recall how she found out about the job, that she believed she had been interviewed by the bureau’s chief of staff but did not did not recall the content of the interview.
She was paid $17.50 an hour for a maximum of 29.5 hours per week, a ceiling she says she reached on average.
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She went into labor around the same time as her childhood friend, Virginia Bateman, who testified last week. In their initial indictment against the auditor in October, prosecutors said Elizabeth McGuiness was paid approximately $19,000.
Cross-examined by Steve Wood, her mother’s defense attorney, Elizabeth McGuiness said she worked all the hours she billed and never stole money from the state.
She told the jury that her duties included “pretty much anything and everything that was given to me.”
She discussed editing documents, manuals, reports and newsletters, as well as creating graphics for the office’s social media posts and newsletters. Part of her duties also included what was referred to in court as “Kathy’s staffing,” which included going to events with her mother where she helped distribute literature and take Pictures.
During his cross-examination, Wood showed a litany of emails implicating Elizabeth McGuiness to or from her mother or other office officials appearing to show her working on certain projects. The emails spanned from June 2020 until the end of the year.
Asked by Wood, she said there were similar emails for the following year of her employment.
She testified about twice to working at the Delaware State Fair in Harrington, where her hours exceeded the 29.5 hours allowed each week. She told the jury that her mother or another senior official had asked her to “bank” the hours, meaning she logged the overtime over the following weeks or months.
Prompted by Knoll’s questioning, she told the jury that she used her personal Gmail address for work. Prosecutors also released audio of his first interview with a Delaware Department of Justice prosecutor. On that call, she told the interviewer that she only uses her status email for work.
When questioned by Wood, she told the jury that the conversation with the investigator took place the day after the Firefly festival, that she was not on her “A-game”, that she was wrong but that she did not did not want to mislead.
Prosecutors questioned her about her use of a state car, prompting her to tell Knoll that “almost all the time” she used the car, her mother and Bateman were present. During cross-examination by Wood, she told the jury that she had never used the car on her own.
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His testimony was consistent with Bateman’s prior statements to the jury. Invited by Wood, the two discussed how other employees in the office treated them.
Elizabeth McGuiness said listeners at the office had a “loathing” for her and Bateman before they got to know them. Bateman told the jury that the employees were rude to them.
Elizabeth McGuiness was not charged with any crime and prosecutors showed the jury what was called a “limited immunity agreement” which she signed.
To convict Kathy McGuiness of the conflict of interest charge related to hiring her daughter, prosecutors must demonstrate that the auditor used his power to hire his daughter and that his daughter benefited in a way that employees in a similar situation do not.
So far, prosecutors have called two former part-time workers to the witness stand to discuss their duties. Both said they had similar duties, were paid slightly less per hour than Bateman and McGuiness, and were not allowed to “bank” hours. Both said they left the office for personal reasons.
Prosecutors are expected to call more part-timers to the stand in the coming days.
McGuiness is also charged with theft as prosecutors say she exercised control over state money by hiring her daughter for a job that paid into a bank account jointly controlled by McGuiness and her daughter.
In Wednesday’s testimony, Elizabeth McGuiness told the jury that she gave none of her earnings to her mother and opened the bank account before she was a teenager.
Contact Xerxes Wilson at (302) 324-2787 or [email protected] Follow @Ber_Xerxes on Twitter.
This article originally appeared in the Delaware News Journal: Delaware State Auditor’s daughter testifies in public corruption trial