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Christopher V.

Fenlon
cfenlon@hinckleyallen.com

November 26, 2019

VIA E-MAIL
Daniel C. Lynch, Esq.
County of Albany
Office of the County Attorney
112 State Street, Room 600
Albany, New York 12207
Daniel.Lynch@albanycountyny.gov

Dear Mr. Lynch:

I write in response to your office’s November 18 and 22, 2019 letters regarding requests
for audit interviews sent to certain Albany County employees. First, I was surprised by your
statement that the employee interview requests are related to an audit I “purport as being conducted
by the Comptroller,” because this suggests that your office is unaware of the Comptroller’s audit.
Your office well knows that the Albany County Comptroller’s office is conducting an audit of the
Albany County payrolls. You and I had extensive discussions this year regarding the audit and
the Comptroller’s demands for access to time and attendance and related records in order to
conduct the audit.

Second, your office also knows that the Comptroller has the lawful authority to interview
County employees in connection with an audit, just as the Comptroller had the lawful authority to
demand that the County Department of Human Resources restore his access to the Kronos time
and attendance system. You and I discussed at length the basis for the Comptroller’s authority to
audit the County payrolls and have access to county-wide time and attendance records, which the
Department of Human Resources had revoked without notice. Only after I made clear that the
Comptroller would seek judicial relief did the County acknowledge the Comptroller’s authority
and restore such access.

The Albany County Comptroller is an independently elected official accountable to the citizens
of Albany County who has extensive powers and mandatory duties enumerated in the Albany
County Charter and in the New York County Law, including with respect to the auditing and
certification of County payrolls. Interviews with County employees regarding County time and
attendance policies and procedures (or lack thereof), individual time-keeping practices, and the
detection of payroll fraud and abuse are directly related to the Comptroller’s duties. Access to
these employees is necessary to the Comptroller’s ability to effectively dispatch his mandatory
duties.

Moreover, the public interest is promoted by the Comptroller’s ability to perform such duties.
The Comptroller’s payroll audit ensures that County funds are properly expended and any
overpayments are recouped, and will result in recommendations to County leaders regarding best
practices going forward. The audit will also assess whether County funds have been improperly
expended to compensate individuals for their work on political campaigns and/or as a patronage
reward for political loyalty. Thus, employee interviews and completion of the audit promotes
transparency of County expenditures.

Accordingly, the Comptroller has the authority to interview any County employee at any time,
without preconditions. The interview requests were issued in an effort to conduct these interviews
in an orderly and organized fashion. As part of his audit responsibilities, the Comptroller sought
to give these County employees, including department heads and appointees of the County
executive, an opportunity to address certain audit findings and solicit their recommendations for
best practices for time and attendance procedures and other controls to ensure the accuracy of the
County payrolls. It is unfortunate that the County Attorney’s office has advised these County
employees not to participate in the interviews and continued the pattern of obstruction and
obfuscation that began with the Kronos records and which originally raised the Comptroller’s
suspicions.

Third, your procedural objections are a diversion. The Comptroller has no obligation to
provide a list of written questions in advance of the interviews. This is a specious basis upon
which to advise County employees not to participate. Nor is the provision of interview parameters
a precondition to the Comptroller’s lawful authority to conduct interviews.

Finally, your office’s November 22, 2019 letter is ambiguous insofar as it is not clear whether
you are stating that every employee to whom interview requests were sent, including any
employees who are no longer employed by the County, contacted you for representation.

Very truly yours,

Hinckley, Allen & Snyder LLP

/s/ Christopher V. Fenlon

Christopher V. Fenlon