Tarte seeks return to elective office in auditor contest

Former state Sen. Jeff Tarte announced his candidacy for state auditor.

RALEIGH — In an interview shortly before announcing his candidacy for State Auditor last week, former state Sen. Jeff Tarte told North State Journal he tried to help the outgoing Beth Wood’s office recover fraudulent funds through his work in IT.

“There’s three, four, five areas in the state where I know there’s money to go harvest, recover right now. And for whatever reason, people don’t want to go chasing it. Beth was the first one I approached right at the end… and because I couldn’t get the people in the direct departments to go deal with it, they just wanted to ignore it,” said Tarte.

Expanding on that point, he said he has identified $100M of funds that are available to be recovered from overpayments and fraud in health care claims, insurance fraud in the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP), plus the Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) program.

“I wrote the legislation that started the whole independent financial audits, which are different than doing ‘cappers,’ which is what the auditor’s office and budget office have done every year. It’s very different for those that have accounting backgrounds than doing a full independent financial audit,” said Tarte, adding, “we’ll be doing those on a more frequent basis so we have accountability for every penny and where it’s going.”

A former three-term state Sen. from Mecklenburg County, Tarte is familiar with the workings of state government. Yet in the position of auditor, Tarte’s lengthy business career as a partner at one of the “Big 4” accounting firms Ernst & Young he seeks to bring to the office.

“We have 12,000 buildings in the state. We don’t pay attention to simple things like electric and water bills. I think I can take $40 million out of just the water bills a year. People don’t want to do the simple stuff because it’s not sexy.”

“That’s really important work. It’s not sexy. The auditor’s office really shouldn’t be partisan,” Tarte told NSJ.

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Matt Mercer is the editor in chief of North State Journal and can be reached at [email protected].