A month after the Knox County Audit Committee recommended firing the county's longer-time internal auditor, one member resigned and another local leader publicly berated the panel's chairman.
Mary Kiser, in an often emotional speech during Tuesday's meeting, told the
committee that she felt it unfairly suggested to the Knox County Commission the
need to terminate Richard Walls.
Shortly after her announcement, Knox County Commissioner Mike Brown, who
attended the meeting, accosted its chairman, Joe Carcello.
"I know crap when I see it and you're throwing some here, fella,"
said Brown, adding that he was "tired" of Carcello's "smug and
The resignation and the heated discussion came a month after the committee in a
4-1 vote agreed to ask the County Commission to fire internal auditor Richard
Walls. Committee members, led by Carcello, said Walls did not do anything
illegal or inappropriate, but, rather, it was what he didn't do while
performing his duties that made them want to replace him.
Officials called his work "limited" and said he only conducted three
audits last year, a low amount for the money spent on the responsibilities.
Committee members also said he should better focus on areas where the
"county has the greatest risk," including the Trustee's Office, which
has a recent history of wrongdoing.
The panel, which makes recommendations to the County Commission, is comprised
of Carcello, a University of Tennessee accounting professor; Kiser, a manager
for internal audit services at Oak Ridge National Laboratory; and county
commissioners Ed Shouse, Dave Wright and Amy Broyles.
Kiser, who's served on the committee since its inception five years ago, cast
the dissenting vote to get rid of Walls. The County Commission, which oversees
the county's internal audit department, will talk more about the recommendation
during its Aug. 19 work session.
During Tuesday's meeting, Kiser said she was stepping down, but not before
defending Walls and suggesting that the Audit Committee could have done more to
guide his work.
She said the "overall" audits that he's conducted during the past
half decade "have been satisfactory and some even more than
"I believe Richard, as a long-time county employee, has been treated
unfairly," said Kiser, who represents the East Tennessee Chapter of the
Institute of Internal Auditors on the committee. "He has uncovered fraud
and identified controls that needed to be strengthened."
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