Franklin County Auditor Erica Hudson submitted a letter of resignation Wednesday, Dec. 5, reported county attorney John Worth, Brookville.
“I drove a copy of the resignation up to the governor” Dec. 6, said Worth, also the Republican Party county chairman. “It took a couple hours for them to do the paperwork” and get Gov. Mitch Daniels’ signature.
County commissioners accepted the resignation Monday, Dec. 10, at their regular meeting, according to Commissioner Tom Linkel, Batesville.
Why did commissioners ask the Republican official to resign? “A lot of missing days,” Linkel said, at least two months. “We just felt she was not taking care of the office as she should.”
The auditor handles “all the money for our county” so it’s a vital job, he pointed out. Hudson’s work performance “was an ongoing issue with no correspondence to her office. The girls working ... (there) on a daily basis had no idea how to take care of business. She gave them no direction.”
The final straw came when the former auditor hired a part-time worker. A day later, he was arrested at her apartment on an outstanding felony warrant issued by Knox County, according to Linkel. “She said she didn’t know he was at her apartment,” which made the commissioners ask her if she issued apartment keys to all employees. The trio thought it was a lapse in judgment. “He had access to too much vital information. We were so disappointed in her.”
According to Worth, “A lot of people were persuading her to do the honest and right thing (and resign) and I commend her for that. That’s a constitutional office ... it’s very difficult to remove a public official.”
When the man was arrested, Linkel went to a county council meeting and asked members to institute a hiring freeze on county government employees. “My fear (was) we could not stop her from doing that kind of thing again.”
Going forward, he wants prospective employees to undergo criminal background checks “just for the protection of the taxpayers and employees in the government center.” A policy is being drafted.
A new auditor will be chosen by a majority vote of county Republican precinct committee chairs at a Dec. 22 caucus, Worth reported. The private meeting is slated for 9 a.m. in the commissioners room.
Each applicant must be a Republican with a history of voting in a primary, at least 18 and a county resident.
A candidate must complete a form available at the clerk’s office in the courthouse, sign it and have it notarized there. Attaching a resume is advised. Forms are due 72 hours prior to the caucus or by 9 a.m. Wednesday, Dec. 19.
Party officials will perform background checks prior to voting, Worth said.
They feel a sense of urgency to fill the auditor’s position. According to the attorney, “There’s lots of work to be done. Whoever gains that position, I’m sure, will have a busy couple of weeks.”
Veronica Voelker, the auditor’s office first deputy, won’t be there long to help train the new auditor. The county treasurer-to-be assumes her new role Jan. 1.