State auditor gears up to fight law change that could impact her office

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Minnesota State Auditor Rebecca Otto has reportedly spent $21,000 in public money on outside counsel to advise her on fighting a new privatization law that could see her department gutted.

The Associated Press obtained documents from Otto's office after a government records request that show lawyers from Fredrikson and Byron were contracted in June.

Otto told AP that they were taken on "to help me assess the implications of this law and its impact on the core function of auditing."

The law Otto's referring to is one passed at the 11th hour by the Minnesota legislature and signed off by Gov. Mark Dayton (despite him opposing it) in spring, which will allow the state's counties to hire private companies to review their finances, rather than being forced to contract the state auditor's office.

She previously suggested a lawsuit could be launched against the state if it were to proceed with implementing the law.

She argues it's unconstitutional for private sector companies to review if counties are making good use of the public's money, saying they wouldn't be carried out in the best interest of the taxpayers.

The move would also mean cuts are required in her own office, as she wouldn't be able to retain as many qualified auditors if counties choose to go elsewhere.

The Star Tribune reports some counties and lawmakers have reported that local authorities could potentially save money by contracting with private firms, as the state auditor charges more.

House State Government Finance Chairwoman Sarah Anderson (R-Plymouth) told AP she doesn't approve of using taxpayers' money to potentially sue a separate part of the government.

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