By Brandon Moseley

The St. Clair County Young Republicans hosted the four Republican State Auditor candidates at the City Market Grill in Pell City. The four GOP Auditor candidates are Stan Cooke, Rusty Glover, Brent Woodall, and Andrew Sorrell. 

Current State Auditor Jim Zeigler is unable to run again because he has reached his term limit.

St. Clair County Republican Party Chairman Logan Glass said, “This is going to be a landmark decision for State Auditor. Whether this position continues to exist or not is being discussed.”

All four Republican candidates expressed support for legislation abolishing the unelected position of Examiner of Public Accounts and restoring that agency under the elected State Auditor. The legislature stripped the State Auditor position of its primary role in the 1940s. Since they could not abolish the constitutional office without a vote of the people, the position was relegated to just doing property inventories and no audits. The State Auditor also nominates one of the three persons to the County Boards of Registrars in every county, except Jefferson County. 

Each candidate had time to talk about what they would do as Auditor.

“As Auditor, I will be asking the legislature for some special powers and authorities,” Cooke said. “But we are not going to wait for it. If I have to have politicians and bureaucrats arrested (for property theft), that is what I will do. The State Auditor and the Attorney General are the only two constitutional officers that can investigate other constitutional officers.”

Cooke, like the other Auditor candidates, felt that audits should be given back to the Auditor.

“The Examiner of Public Accounts is paid three times what the Auditor is paid,” Cooke said.

Glover is a former State Senator, teacher, and coach.

“I agree wholeheartedly with Stan," Glover said.

Glover said the people he would appoint to the Board of Registrars would make sure that people don’t vote multiple times. He also said that radiofrequency detectors would allow the auditors to get quicker inventories though they would cost a little more money.

“I have a good relationship with the general fund chairs in both houses of the legislature,” Glover said.

Glover added he would be able to restore some of the funds and staffing that the legislature took away from the current Auditor because of some of his political stands.

Sorrell is a current member of the Alabama House of Representatives, where he represents Muscle Shoals. Sorrell said that bills to eliminate the State Auditor position are “100% political. We don’t need to eliminate the position itself.”

Sorrell, like Glover, pointed out things the legislature has taken from the current Auditor. Many say that is because Zeigler has angered the Montgomery establishment for some of his positions on issues.

“They cut his budget; they took his parking spot; it is so petty,” Sorrell said.

Sorrell vowed to focus on election integrity in the appointment of Boards of Registrars members.

“Look at what happened in Georgia, where they were wheeling out two cases of votes after everybody had left,” Sorrell said. “It could happen in the state of Alabama.”

Woodall is a Florence attorney who has worked as a prosecutor for the U.S. Attorney’s office in Montgomery as well as for the Alabama Attorney General’s office.

While working at the Public Service Commission, he learned about the State Auditor’s Office and that it does property inventories and not audits.

“If they are not auditing, who is auditing?" Woodall questioned. "I found out the Examiner of Public Accounts … made over $209,000, more than Jim Zeigler and Kay Ivey combined. The person second in command makes over 100-thousand dollars. When you count perks and state cars, we will save over $400,000,” by abolishing the Examiner of Public Accounts and returning the audits to the State Auditor. “I will get that done as Auditor.”

“I have prosecuted people who have sticky fingers before,” Woodall continued, promising that the auditors will more vigorously pursue public corruption on his watch.

“The people I put in as registrars will respect your right to vote,” Woodall promised.