CEDAR RAPIDS — Linn County Auditor Joel Miller wants an internal investigation into his conduct finished before the general election season heats up.
“I am concerned you are going to let this drag through another campaign season,” Miller told county supervisors during Wednesday’s meeting. “What is the delay? Why can’t you make this an urgent matter, to come to closure?”
County Finance Director Steve Tucker said his probe continues. In his role as the county’s compliance officer, he’s conducting the investigation into two employees’ allegations about the time billed by a contract worker who was hired by Miller to manage an office software project.
“I’m working it in with my other work, but it’s really not his concern,” said Tucker.
He declined to estimate when the investigation will be done.
“It’s not his concern, nor anybody else’s, until I’m finished,” said Tucker. “That’s where we’re at.”
Supervisors said they’d like the investigation finished, too, but they have no authority over how it’s conducted.
“His point is well taken as far as getting it done before the fall election season,” said Brent Oleson, R-Marion. “We’ve just told the compliance officer to do his job, to do it thoroughly, and to expedite it.”
“As our policy has been designed, we’re hands off,” said Ben Rogers, D-Cedar Rapids. “I would like a conclusion to this just so we can move on, (but) from the very beginning all of us have removed ourselves from it.”
Oleson and Rogers defended Tucker’s work.
“He’s beyond reproach,” said Oleson.
“It’s not political or dragged out,” said Rogers. “There’s no grounds or merit to that.”
“I’d like to think that the compliance officer is autonomous to the board,” said Supervisor John Harris, R-Palo. “I don’t blame Auditor Miller for being impatient, and I don’t blame him for being worried this is going to be resolved way too close to the election, but it is what it is.”
Tucker has been investigating Miller’s hiring of a friend last year to install maintenance management software on his office’s computers. On April 30, he requested that Miller turn over a laptop computer used in the project.
After first refusing to turn over the laptop, Miller complied the following week after making a copy of its hard drive. He called the investigation politically motivated, timed to affect the June 5 primary election.
Miller, who defeated two primary challengers, urged supervisors to force an end to Tucker’s investigation before the run-up to November’s general election.
“Quit horsing around and make something happen here,” he said. “You need to make it happen this month and not get dragged into the next campaign season.”
Oleson said he thinks Tucker will finish the investigation this month.
“I don’t see anything that will prohibit that,” he said.
The two county employees, who remain anonymous, raised concerns over Miller’s hiring of Joe Clarahan through a temporary agency. The agency was paid $37,342 between last September and March 19 for Clarahan’s work.