Regular audits a good safeguard

West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey’s suggestion earlier this year that all state agencies should undergo regular, independent audits was brushed off by legislators as political grandstanding. But it was an excellent idea as a scandal in Ohio – not to mention several examples of mismanagement in the Mountain State -demonstrates.

Former Ohio Deputy Treasurer Amer Ahmad has made headlines across the world during the past few days. He was arrested in Pakistan Monday, after fleeing from U.S. authorities.

Ahmad was awaiting sentencing after pleading guilty in December to federal charges involving a kickback scheme from 2009 to early 2011. In exchange for steering state financial services businesses to two other men, Ahmad received more than $523,000.

Among noteworthy aspects of the case is that it required federal prosecutors to investigate the case and bring Ahmad to justice.

If it can happen in Ohio, why not West Virginia?

Clearly, regular audits of state agencies could serve as a safeguard against such abuses – and others, ranging from alleged mismanagement of the state Agriculture Department under its previous commissioner, Gus Douglass. That came to light only after new Commissioner Walt Helmick asked for an audit after taking office.

Morrisey is a Republican. Both houses of the Legislature are controlled by Democrats. But safeguarding taxpayers’ money ought to be a nonpartisan concern. Lawmakers should reconsider the suggestion.