(Host) Randy Brock, the Republican candidate for Auditor says incumbent Elizabeth Ready has misrepresented her academic credentials. Brock wants Ready to stop conducting state audits until she can explain how the inaccuracies occurred. Ready says she takes responsibility for the errors, but that she didn’t intentionally try to deceive the public.
VPR’s John Dillon reports:
(Dillon) At a Statehouse news conference, Brock displayed gigantic, poster-sized enlargements of state directories that show Ready has college degrees that she in fact never earned.
(Brock) “For more than 16 years in more than 50 separate published biographies, state Auditor Elizabeth Ready is listed as holding college and graduate degrees that she does not hold.”
(Dillon) Some of the biographies say Ready has a master’s from Norwich University. Other entries say she hold a bachelor’s degree from the University of Vermont. Ready attended UVM but left without graduating. Her undergraduate degree is from Burlington College. And while she took courses for a master’s through Norwich, she never received a degree.
Brock says he’s highlighting the discrepancies, because he says the key qualifications for auditor are trust and credibility.
(Brock) “The auditor of any office of state government must be beyond reproach. This is an office that demands trust. The auditor certifies the accuracy and completeness of the state’s financial statements. And these discrepancies and the contradictory responses to them have raised serious questions about the auditor’s fitness for office.”
(Dillon) Ready points out that her official biography on the auditor’s Web site does accurately reflect her educational background.
However, the most recent state directory, published by the secretary of state, wrongly says she earned a master’s degree from Norwich. The secretary of state’s office gets its information from the public officials themselves. But Ready says she doesn’t know how the error happened.
(Ready) “I don’t think I have ever intentionally lied. Clearly, I have put out information that was not accurate and that was confusing and that resulted in mistakes in the biography. I take responsibility for those mistakes. I apologize.”
(Dillon) In the 2002 election, Republicans went after Ready for running up thousands of dollars in personal cell phone calls. Ready reimbursed the state for the calls. And she says she regrets the attack politics that she says has characterized this campaign.
(Ready) “If things have changed that dramatically and Vermonters want this kind of politics, then there will be a change because I’m not going to play.”
(Dillon) Ready would clearly prefer to talk about her record as auditor. She says her reports on subjects such as state contracts and the state vehicle fleet have saved millions of dollars for Vermont taxpayers. Republican Brock questions those claims and has challenged Ready to a debate on the substantive issues confronting the auditor’s office.
For Vermont Public Radio, I’m John Dillon in Montpelier.