Beth Wood's office to ALE cease-and-desist letter: 'No'

cjarvis@newsobserver.comJuly 19, 2012 

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Beth Wood, State Auditor

— Well, she’s thought about it and the answer is – no.

That’s the response from the general counsel for State Auditor Beth Wood in answer to a “cease-and-desist” letter handed Wood on Wednesday as she was about to discuss an Alcohol Law Enforcement report with a legislative committee.

The letter, signed by two attorneys for ALE Director John Ledford, demanded Wood stop disseminating the investigative report, which said Ledford and Deputy Director Allen Page misused their state cars, and that division officials obstructed an auditor’s access to records and personnel. In June, the report was publicly released, as the auditor’s office typically does.

Ledford’s attorneys demanded Wood take the report and accompanying video of her explaining the report down from the state auditor’s web site. They contend libel and slander laws were broken – although the report and video don’t include the ALE officials’ names – and that personnel matters are confidential.

Timothy J. Hoegemeyer, counsel for the auditor’s office, on Thursday wrote back saying the investigation, which originated with a hotline tip, and subsequent report were done in accordance with state law, “and therefore we will not cease and desist the publication of this report.”

Soon after an auditor began questioning the ALE officials last year, the division complained to Wood that he was incompetent and untruthful. Then Ledford’s attorney, Stephen P. Lindsay of Fairview, filed a voluminous public record request for everything related to that auditor.

Hoegemeyer’s letter says the public records request is vague, overbroad and some of the records sought are confidential.

Jarvis: 919-829-4576

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