Update: The newspaper article discussed in this post was written by Brian Bowden and Charlotte Twine. I emailed both of them to ask about the apparently false claim that Kevin Madok has been a CPA for thirty years. After failing to receive a response, I contacted Managing Editor, Dan Campbell, and Publisher Paul Clarin. No response but the silence speaks volumes.
There was a candidate forum in the Upper Keys. Yes, the candidates for Clerk of Court were there. I’ll keep this short because I’ve written extensively about this important race already, but there are some interesting tidbits I’d like to share.
The Free Press wrote about it, but as always the article will disappear next week. The entire article is preserved here for posterity. Who knows? We might want to refer back to it one day.
Saunders raised what I think is the key issue in this race.
“Madok has worked for the county, and it’s a conflict of interest,” Saunders alleged, since one of the clerk’s responsibilities is to audit the county. “I’m an independent watchdog.”
Madok working for the county doesn’t disqualify him in and of itself. But I do believe that Madok disqualified himself by writing the inaccurate and dishonest Emergency Services Surtax (ESS) “white paper”. Not only does this raise doubts about his character, but it’s a clear indication that he’s willing to throw the taxpayers overboard to please the Board of County Commissioners (BOCC).
It’s likely that, as Clerk, Madok will face a situation where he needs to audit the county, including his former bosses Danny Kolhage and the iPhone Bandit. Is he be willing to do what it takes to produce an honest and complete report? No matter how damning it may be? The ESS fiasco indicates that he would not.
Madok’s response to Saunders’s comment:
“That was an attack on my integrity,” Madok responded. He explained that he is loyal to the county in his current role, but if elected, he’d be loyal to the taxpayers.
It’s interesting that Madok places the county on one side and the taxpayers on the other. As a senior county official, Madok already has a responsibility to the taxpayers. When it came to the ESS, he failed in that responsibility. Miserably. End of story. Why should we believe that will change if he’s elected Clerk? He’s made his contempt for the taxpayers very clear by his own actions. Saunders is not attacking Madok’s integrity. Madok has already done that himself.
Madok went on to say…
He said that he has been a certified public accountant for 30 years. “Our core value is independence. If I violate that, I lose my license. There’s no conflict of interest.”
Madok has not been a certified public accountant (CPA) for 30 years. His California CPA license lapsed in 1990. He didn’t have a CPA license in Florida until 2015. I hope he didn’t actually say that because it’s a flat-out lie. Madok certainly isn’t above lying about his qualifications, but claiming to be a CPA for 30 years when it’s really been more like three combined? That’s a certified public whopper. I intend to get clarification about this from the Free Press.
Saunders went on to describe his own extensive management and supervisory experience. Madok countered by saying this.
Madok said he does have management experience, which he acquired while working in the clerk’s office under Danny Kolhage. “We had clean audits and nobody left,” he said, referencing the recent turnover in the office.
This particular statement is true only in a hair-splitting technical sense. What Madok fails to mention is that the Clerk’s office under Kolhage was reprimanded by the Florida Department of Financial Services (FDFS) for failing to get juror payments out on time three years running. (Ironically enough, Kolhage blamed staff reductions for the foul-up.) Madok was there at the time. Clearly, the Clerk’s office was not the problem-free paradise Madok likes to pretend it was.
Saunders qualifications stand up to fact-checking. He’s been an attorney in good standing with the Florida Bar since 1979. He spent years in the state legislature successfully representing the Florida Keys. No fudging on qualifications here. This guy is the real thing.
Not only is Saunders telling the truth about his qualifications, there are other great arguments as to why he would make a good Clerk of Court.
- Management experience. I think this one is self-explanatory. Saunders has it. Madok not so much.
- Legislative experience. Saunders has raised the issue of reduced funding for the Clerk’s office. Kolhage, in fact, cited this as a contributing factor in the late juror payment debacle. Obviously, lack of funding is an ongoing problem. Who better than Saunders to sort it out?
- Integrity. Madok lied about his qualifications. He lied to the voters about the impact of the ESS. That’s enough for me to know that is not who I want in the Clerk’s office. There’s no evidence that Saunders has said anything similarly deceptive. Everything he’s said so far checks out.
- No apparent conflicts. Madok got upset when the issue of his close ties to the Board of County Commissioners (BOCC) was mentioned. But this is something that voters have to take into account. Will the Clerk be looking out for the taxpayers? Or his long-time associates? His handling of the ESS indicates that he’ll throw the taxpayers under the bus in a heartbeat.
Once again, the voters’ choice seems very clear to me. We’ll see what happens.