The head of a state-owned timber company that audits Oregon’s largest county auditor has been caught lying about the audit’s findings, and is facing an investigation.
Wood County Auditor Scott Johnson told investigators he had seen the auditor’s office and its employees falsify evidence in order to conceal the audit findings, according to a report filed Monday by the Oregon Auditor General’s Office.
The auditors’ findings have become public since the county auditor made the claims.
Woods spokeswoman Kelly Breen said the audit was made public because Johnson lied to investigators.
The auditor, who has been the county’s top official since 2014, has since resigned from the job, the auditor said.
He has been placed on administrative leave pending the investigation, she said.
Johnson, a Democrat, was appointed to the position in January after four years at the Oregon State Auditor’s Office, which oversees the auditing of county boards, schools and other county offices.
His successor, Jeff Hoch, is the first to hold the position since 2014.
In his resignation letter, Hoch said Johnson “will be held accountable” for his actions, but did not address any of the allegations.
The Oregon Auditor’s investigation found the auditor made false statements in the auditor general’s audit of the Wood County Auditor, which is part of the state auditor’s Office of Auditor General.
The audit found Johnson had false information about an auditor’s assessment of the audit by failing to disclose in the report that the auditor had “never conducted any audit of Wood County in the past.”
The auditor found Johnson also had false statements about the results of an audit by the county commissioners’ office that concluded the audit “is not an effective and efficient process” for auditing county governments.
The audits, which the auditor called “highly significant” and “extremely significant,” said the auditor “failed to ensure” the auditor was performing his duties in accordance with state standards and the county auditors had “a reasonable expectation of audit performance.”
Hoch said in a statement that he will conduct an audit of Johnson’s conduct and report back within 30 days.
The audit, which began in October, found Johnson lied about the county audit.
In a statement, Hocky said he “takes seriously allegations that have been made against the auditor.”
The audit concluded, however, that the county didn’t have an adequate audit plan and that “the audit did not provide an accurate assessment of how the county would perform if the audit were conducted in a manner consistent with state and federal requirements.”
The auditing agency also said the county “failed in its efforts to identify deficiencies in its audit plan” and was “misleading the public” with the audit results.
The county auditor’s report found Johnson and Hoch had “inherent conflicts of interest” in their roles, which could be grounds for impeachment under state ethics law.
Hoch resigned from his post as the county Auditor last year.