Full Legal Name: Fern Haywood Shubert
Name as it Appears on the Ballot: Fern Shubert
Date of Birth: August 30, 1947
Campaign Web Site: FernShubert.com
Occupation & Employer: CPA, Fern H Shubert, CPA
Years lived in North Carolina: 20+ since moving back in 1991, approx 50+ total
1. What do you see as the most important issues facing the State Auditor’s office? If elected, what are your top three priorities in addressing those issues?
North Carolina’s economy is struggling, and the issue is not just jobs. Jobs are important, but it is also important to meet the promises made to our state’s retirees and to quit piling up problems (including debt) we’ll pay more to face later. The auditor doesn’t make policy decisions, but it is the job of the auditor to act as a financial advisor and to be sure resources are used efficiently for public purposes, not wasted or stolen. The State Integrity Investigation’s Corruption Risk Report Card for NC gave the state an F on Public Access to Information, and a lack of transparency is indeed an invitation to corruption. In addition to working to improve public access to information, I would:
1- Focus audit resources on high risk areas
2- Seek recovery of funds that have been spent without legal authority
3- Seek ways to improve operational effectiveness throughout state government
2. What in your record as a public official or other experience demonstrates your ability to be effective on the issues you’ve identified? Please be as specific as possible in relating past accomplishments to current goals.
1-My ability to identify risk early has been proven repeatedly. I was among the first to raise warnings about Jim Black and Mike Easley, and the record now proves my warnings were valid. I was so confident of my prediction concerning Black that I stated in 2000 that I would never support his re-election as Speaker and I was the only member of the 2001 House of Representatives who never voted for Jim Black for Speaker.
2- Shortly after returning to NC, a small town (fewer than 1000 households and no major industry) asked me to help them because they were convinced they were being systematically overcharged by the county’s public works department. I not only proved town officials were right and that state and federal laws were being ignored, I obtained a recovery for the town of almost half a million dollars, roughly $500/household, and a new contract with more safeguards for the town.
3- The US SBA awarded me the Accountant Advocate of the Year award.
3. The Independent’s mission is to help build a just community in the Triangle and North Carolina. Please point to a specific position in your platform that would, if achieved, help further that goal.
Being sure funds intended for public purposes are not wasted or stolen helps everyone, except those who profit from dishonest government. The town I helped take on the county government was much lower income/higher minority than the county average and the overcharges were subsidizing projects that benefitted much higher income individuals. As was the case when I refused to support Black, doing the right thing earned me a good number of enemies.
4. Identify and explain one principled stand you would be willing to take if elected that you suspect might cost you some popularity points with voters.
The office of Auditor should not be partisan. I do not mean the election should be non-partisan, because competition is good for the customer, but the person elected should focus on the numbers and doing the job of auditor, without favor based on party affiliation. The Auditor, like the Treasurer, should based his or her decisions on what is best for the state, and not play personal favorites or tolerate crony capitalism.
5. If these issues haven’t been addressed above, would you please comment on:
a. The extent to which auditing should be policy-driven, as opposed to the fundamental job of ascertaining whether money was spent in the way the law directed that it be spent? In other words, when is it the Auditor’s job to recommend changes in law and policy?
The Auditor does not make policy and you are correct that the fundamental job of Auditor requires ascertaining whether money is spent as directed by the Legislature. But the Auditor is supposed to be an independent advisor to the Legislature and the Executive Branch, and when there is an opportunity to improve the cost-effectiveness of government, that opportunity should be identified and the appropriate parties informed.
b. What areas of state spending do you think will demand your personal and sustained attention? Please be specific.
Hotline allegations of malfeasance or tips received through other sources concerning actual wrongdoing.
c. The Auditor’s office is expected to be nonpartisan and stay out of politics. What steps will you take to assure the public that you and your office are meeting that standard?
d. What steps will you take as Auditor to build trust that the office is applying the law equally, to each subject of investigation?
All I can say is check my record. I’ve been just as willing to go after Republicans as Democrats, and I have the enemies to prove it.
e. In the past, turnover in the Auditor’s office has been high. What measures will you take to recruit and retain qualified, experienced employees?
My management style is to respect integrity and competence. Having managed auditors in a number of settings, from the federal government to internal audit at a large corporation, I’ve found that good people respond well to that approach.
f. What additional measures should the state Auditor take to encourage citizens to offer information about the abuse of taxpayer dollars?
There is a new whistleblower statute. I’d like to see how it works before proposing changes.