State auditor will speak at Chilton County Tea Party meeting

Published 4:49 pm Tuesday, June 16, 2015

New State Auditor Jim Zeigler will speak in Clanton on Thursday.

The meeting, which is open to the public, is sponsored by the Chilton County Tea Party and will be held at the Chilton-Clanton Public Library, located at 100 N. 1st St. at 6:30 p.m.

Zeigler will explain his new “Auditor General” plan to monitor waste and abuse in government, according to a press release.

Alabama has no inspector general, government accountability office or other official watchdog of state government. Zeigler said he has a plan to become the unofficial monitor of waste and abuse in state government, according to the release.

Zeigler says his “Auditor General” plan requires no legislation and no state funds.

“The official duties of the state auditor include only inventory of state property,” Zeigler said in the release. “There is a total of about $2 billion of state property–all paid for by the taxpayers.”

The state auditor is responsible for inventorying each item of state property worth $500 or more. Typical items are computers, vehicles and machinery.

The auditor’s office now affixes a unique bar code to each item so they can be scanned for inventory.

“In the past, the state had missing cars, missing weapons and missing laptops,” Zeigler said. “We must do a better job and be better stewards of the taxpayers’ property.”

Zeigler said his plan is not based just on the constitutional duties of the state auditor but includes the legal authority of any individual taxpayer of Alabama.

“Our state motto is, ‘We Dare Defend Our Rights.’ Alabama laws recognize the right of any taxpayer to legally challenge the spending of state tax dollars as illegal, unconstitutional or unauthorized. As a private citizen, I used this taxpayer standing perhaps a dozen times over the past 30 years to challenge questionable government spending,” Zeigler said.

The landmark case which allows Alabama taxpayers to file suit challenging the legality of government spending is Zeigler v. Baker, 344 So. 2d 761.

It held: “In a long line of decisions this Court has recognized the right of a taxpayer to challenge, either as unconstitutional or as not conforming to statute, the expenditure of public funds by county officers…The right of a taxpayer to challenge the unlawful disbursement of state funds likewise is unquestioned.”

“Since I have been elected state auditor, I can use the legal rights of a taxpayer as well as the platform of the auditor,” Zeigler said in the release.

Zeigler will field questions from the audience and news media after the June 18 speech.