By Douglas Smith
August 30, 2013
The administrative assistant to the County Sheriff, Kathy Wyatt, performs many duties for the Sheriff. Some of her duties are administrative, which are paid for by the County, but she also assists the Sheriff in his election campaigns and works for the Democratic Party, which is supposed to be volunteer work. There is also a grey zone of fundraising dinners and community events (e.g. an email showing that she is trying to sell tickets to a fundraiser through the WCDP, AADP and candidates for judges). A study of her time cards and her daily schedule shows that it is often difficult to separate the types of duties. That makes it critical that the County have in place a plan to manage this conflict of interest. Instead there is a pattern of major abuse of time cards and a use of County resources for the Sheriff’s re-election campaign.
Kathy Wyatt’s Time Cards
My study of Kathy Wyatt’s time cards begins with the start of 2012, which was an election year for her boss, Sheriff Jerry Clayton.
Base Pay Raise with OT
2011 $53,644 $85,288
2012 $56,888 6%
She also receives an annual uniform allowance of $1,500, although she does not wear a uniform.
She also received a DEG PREM SH (bonus?) of $1,706 and tuition reimbursement of $2,590.
Her time cards show that she generally claimed to be working around 67 hrs. per week (avg. 40 reg + 14 overtime + 13 Flex) and up to 11 paid hrs. a day.
From January 1, 2012 until August 12, 2012, when her position changed to a salaried rather than an hourly position, she claimed the maximum allowable amount of overtime, which was 28 hours per pay period, except for two pay periods (one of those pay periods was immediately after I had submitted a FOIA request for her pay records).
On 6 occasions, she claimed overtime hours worked on holidays, which were paid at double time. This included 10 hrs., January 2 (New Year), 8 hrs. regular + 10 hrs. overtime, January 16 (MLK day), 8 hrs. regular +11 hrs. overtime, February 20 (Presidents’ day), 8 hrs. regular + 3 hrs. overtime, April 6 (Good Friday), 9 hrs, May 28 (Memorial Day), 6 hrs., July 4 (Independence Day). Thus, she claimed overtime for every available holiday between January and August.
She claimed 1,700 hours of Flex time earned from January 2010 until June 2012, of which she used only 8 hours. None of her time cards show any vacation time used and she used two sick days in the last 18 months.
I submitted a FOIA request for the records of her key card swipes (the Sheriff’s Office has key card access when the building is closed) to see if she was in the building on Sundays. The request was denied by claiming that the records would reveal the security measures in the building.
Her overtime hours were authorized and approved by Staci Rowser rather than by the Sheriff. Ms. Rowser is listed as an account clerk II in the HR office. Thus, she is clearly not Kathy Wyatt’s supervisor.
Political Activities for the Sheriff and the Democratic Party
When Jerry Clayton took office in 2009, he hired Kathy Wyatt as his administrative assistant. She had worked on his election campaign and this position has traditionally been looked upon as a patronage position. However, as an elected official, everything the Sheriff does may have an effect on his re-election campaign. Thus, it is very important to manage the inherent conflict of interest if Kathy Wyatt was going to work on his re-election campaign in 2012. The County administration did not have a plan to monitor or manage this conflict of interest.
Campaign fundraising is one activity that is unequivocally purely political in nature and must be completely separate from work for the County
I am glad you are doing better. Actually, I am really tired. (I am going to do a binder on the kick-off event, for future reference, though I think we should get done with 2012’s election before I plan 2016’s)
It should also be noted that on March 31. 2012, the day of the Sheriff’s campaign kick-off event, Kathy Wyatt’s time card says that she worked 11 hours of overtime.
She lists her AOL email account as the campaign email address. I tried to obtain her internet history file, through FOIA, in order to see if she was checking that AOL account from her office computer but the County FOIA coordinator claimed it would cost in excess of $1,500 because someone would have to check each internet address to see if it would be an invasion of Kathy’s privacy. I also tried to get any files on her computer that had versions of the fundraising announcements, to see if she was using the County’s computer to compose these campaign documents but this was also blocked by the FOIA coordinator.
She also helped to organize and conduct an annual golf outing fundraiser for Sheriff Clayton’s re-election campaign. Her schedule has an entry on February 15, 2012 which reads:
01/26/12 Washtenaw County Dem Party (WCDP) & Western Washtenaw Dems
02//11/12 Ann Arbor Democratic Party (AADP)
02/15/12 Race Project: Peace Neighborhood Center
02/17/12 Order tickets Brotherhood Banquet
03/10./12 Men’s Day Second Baptist Church
03/11/12 UM Student, Dingell Breakfast
03/12/12 Farm Bureau
03/17/12 WCDP & AADP
03/24/12 Benefit for Prisoner Re-entry
03/25/12 Great Start Family Picnic
04/21/12 WC Board Commissioners * NANBPWC Founder Day Luncheon
04/28/12 Suspension & Expulsion Forum
One of the events that was originally blacked out was a meeting of the Ann Arbor Democrats from 10 AM to 12 PM, on Saturday January 14, 2012. An article in the Ann Arbor Chronicle documented Kathy Wyatt’s attendance and purpose.
“Also on the county level, Kathy Wyatt, executive assistant from the sheriff’s office, announced that sheriff Jerry Clayton would be seeking re-election this year. The sheriff’s presence was required at a job fair that morning”
In addition to working on Jerry Clayton’s election campaigns, Kathy Wyatt is a member of the Executive Committee of the Washtenaw County Democratic Party and Vice Chair, of Membership & Outreach.
Kathy Wyatt’s Reward: A promotion and a 40% pay raise
I spoke at the June 7, 2012 working session of the Board of Commissioners about the issue I have outlined in this article. Apparently, it had some impact but instead of an investigation into wrongdoing or disciplinary action, the County created a new salaried position for her with a 40% raise in pay.
“In order to effectuate such change, and without having to [go to] the BOC at this time, I would recommend that we utilize the currently vacant position of HR Manager in your office (Grade 64) and downgrade to the Grade 61. If at such point you wish to hire for the HR Manager position or perhaps as part o the 2013 budget reaffirmation in the Fall-2012, we could eliminate the current Grade 21 position occupied by Ms. Wyatt and create a new HR Manager” (Diane Heidt)
“Our plan has been to leave the HR Manger position vacant until the first of the year so we would like to schedule the elimination of the current Grade 21 position and re-create the new position for the first of the year.” (Jerry Clayton)
Her salary was increased to the maximum of the range for the position at $79,537. Considering that she had less than 4 years of seniority, it should be unusual to put her at the maximum of the pay range.
She also continues to receive an annual uniform allowance of $1,500; although she does not wear a uniform She also received a payment for excess vacation time of $3,441, a DEG PREM SH (bonus) of $2,410, and tuition reimbursement of $2,694. The promotion was made effective retroactively and she received $871 of retroactive pay.
According to the Mission Statement of the Washtenaw County Sheriff’s Office, one of the core values of the department is “Financial Integrity”.
Although political activity by a public employee on behalf of a candidate is permissible, it is restricted during the employees work day.
Michigan Compiled Laws 15.404 states that; Active engagement in permissible activities; certain hours prohibited.
Sec. 4. The activities permitted by sections 2 and 3 shall not be actively engaged in by a public employee during those hours when that person is being compensated for the performance of that person's duties as a public employee.
Thus, activities such as sending out email invitations to fundraisers, and preparing campaign files would be illegal during business hours.
The use of County resources, such as computers, email, telephones, printers, etc., would also be illegal.
15.342 Public officer or employee; prohibited conduct
(3) A public officer or employee shall use personnel resources, property, and funds under the officer or employee's official care and control judiciously and solely in accordance with prescribed constitutional, statutory, and regulatory procedures and not for personal gain or benefit.
Falsification of time card records is a violation of the law. Time cards must accurately reflect the hours actually worked by the employee. Since there are only 24 hours in a day, at a minimum any day that Kathy Wyatt recorded more than 24 hours would be a falsified record. The routine recording of 14 hours of overtime each Sunday is also very suspect.
The effective creation of a new position by renaming the HR Manager’s position may also violate state law.
Whether you consider this “gaming the system” or outright criminal behavior, we should expect the County administration and our elected officials to have in place the proper financial controls to prevent such abuses. However, here we have a situation, where our elected Sheriff must know and approve of such behavior since this is one of his closest associates. We have the top Human Resources official scheming with the Sheriff about how we can do this without getting the approval of the Board of Commissioners. Even when this is brought to the attention of the Board of Commissioners, they fail to respond.
Whatever you call this, we should expect better from our County government officials.
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