Knox County Audit Committee Meeting Turns Heated

Aug 14, 2013

Knox County Auditor Richard Walls.
Credit J. Miles Cary, Knoxville News Sentinel

An effort to remove Knox County's internal auditor took a dramatic turn Tuesday, when an audit committee member resigned and a county commissioner lambasted the committee's leader.

In July, the county audit committee recommended removing auditor Richard Walls. At the time, committee head Joe Carcello said he had concerns about the quality and quantity of Walls' work. Specifically, Carcello indicated Walls spent too much time auditing unimportant matters and failed to reconcile his findings before issuing a report.

But at Tuesday night's audit committee meeting, member Mary Kiser quit the panel over the committee's handling of the matter. Kiser said Carcello held secret meetings with other audit committee members to discuss firing Walls before any public discussion on the matter was held. Ultimately, Kiser was the lone dissenter in the July 9 vote that recommended Walls' removal from office. On Tuesday Carcello flatly denied claims that he was trying to work behind the scenes to effect Walls' termination.

County Commissioner Mike Brown strongly disagreed with Carcello's denial, and told the committee head so in blunt terms.

"You have an axe to grind and I don't like your attitude," Brown told Carcello. "I won't stop until you're out of that chair."

Brown told the Knoxville News Sentinel that he would work to remove Carcello from his position, starting as early as the county commission's work session next Monday.

The proposal to fire Richard Walls is also expected to come up at that Monday work session.