Sunday, November 29, 2009

Exclusive: Bambenek Chides Ormsby on Forensic Audit

Uh oh, seems I've started trouble between two titans of the Illinois blogosphere. They've both weighed in on Republican candidate for Illinois governor Adam Andrzejewski's plan to "open up the books" in Springfield and conduct a "forensic audit of the state's expenses." Those titans are David Ormsby, a public relations consultant and editor of Illinois Observer, and conservative activist John Bambenek, and the battlefield is Chicago News Bench. Bambenek, a resident of Champaign, is currently not running for Congress in the Illinois 22 District. He notes, "IL-22 isn't a real congress seat except @ I'm offended you thought I'd actually run for Congress." The man has a sense of humor. He's also the author of the "Bambenek Putback Amendment" to the Illinois state constitution. (Also see "Cleaning Up Illinois: The Putback Amendment" at In a Nov. 19 post here, we wrote that Andrzejewski cited a Channel 7 report about state employees using state owned airplanes "regularly at a cost of $3,000 per hour totaling $4 million per year." Andrzejewski said that "real reform can only be the result of new people with new ideas in Springfield." That didn't sit well with David Ormsby, who lobbed a grenade at Andrzejewski. Ormsby wrote this in a comment to Chicago News Bench on Nov. 23 (emphasis added): "As laudable as Adam Andrzejewksi's 'forensics audit' proposal is on its face, it is important to note that each state agency, board, commission, university, etc. have been and continue to be audited--both with program and finance audits--every two years by the Illinois Auditor General. The incumbent, Republican William Holland [the Illinois Auditor General] , is respected by both sides of the aisle. Holland, whose audits helped undo Rod Blagojevich, would have found 'billions' of dollars lying around in the state sofa cushions had it actually existed. Lack of audits is not what ails the Illinois budget. A 11% unemployment rate and the loss of income tax revenue is the culprit. An audit is unnecessary to tell you that. Ask a voter." Before we get to John Bambenek's fiery retort to Ormsby's, let me say that I didn't agree with Ormsby's comment, but he's a rational guy and a gentleman, and so I wanted to give his comment some exposure. In reflection, however, I'd say that he misses crucial points. He wrote that Holland "would have found 'billions' of dollars lying around in the state sofa cushions had it actually existed," then went on to say that "Lack of audits is not what ails the Illinois budget." Well, no, a lack of audits is not the only problem, but in fact there are hundreds of millions of dollars lying around in the "state sofa" that are yet to be accounted for, much of it lost through waste, shuffling, and outright hiding. If not a thorough audit, how to find those funds? Furthermore, Holland and others did allow - are allowing - the wasteful airplanes-for-VIPs program, the one Andrzejewski noted, to continue unfettered. Image: Adam Andrzejewski (left) with John Bambenek (right). Photo by T.H.Mannis In response to Ormsby's comment, John Bambenek wrote the following on Nov. 23: David Ormsby, longtime supporter of Democratic candidates who have broken this state, clearly doesn't understand the difference between an audit and a forensic audit. Yes, the states books are audited. Yet, no one can tell us what the budget deficit really is. Or more accurately, everyone has a different answer. An audit merely tracks where the money came in and where the money went out. A forensic audit gets into the "why". We know our finances are broken, a forensic audit figures out what happened and how to fix it (and who to put up on public corruption charges, if needed). In Texas, saved $8B annually. In Kansas, it saved $1B. This works! And William Holland is a great auditor but his authority is subject to the state legislature. The legislature tasks him with other efforts but he has no independent authority. When the legislature tasked him to find all the state programs he could not do so because many state agencies simply ignored him. Decades of off-books spending by both parties is why we are a high tax burden state, that's why businesses leave. Heck, even Oprah is fed up. The forensic audit lets us finally get to the heart of the corruption that drives businesses away, that drives taxes up. If you want to do business with the state, get a permit, etc, you need to grease the right palms here. That's why businesses are happy to set up in Indiana. Is it a cure all? No, it's a tool to move us forward because until we can control the budget and end the corruption we can't move forward. Bambenek later sent me a direct message via Twitter: My first draft was even snarkier but the 1000 character limit made me trim some things :) We try to avoid snarkiness at CNB. Ormsby sent a DM to me on Twitter, too: "I keep one eye--sometimes both--on CNB too." That's good: You never know when we might let slip with something snarky. Leave a Comment Conservative T-Shirts Follow CNB on Twitter RSS Feed