- Associated Press - Wednesday, September 9, 2015

LINCOLN, Neb. (AP) - Nebraska State Auditor Charlie Janssen says an outside firm will be hired to audit a state agency’s contracts with his company to avoid any perceived conflicts of interest.

Janssen’s company, RTG Medical, holds more than $945,000 in contracts with the Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services, including two worth more than $422,000 that started after he took office in January. He has said a blind trust keeps him unaware of his company’s daily dealings and protects him from potential conflicts of interest.

But some at the State Capitol have questioned how that’s possible since the contracts are a matter of public record and Janssen’s brother also is a leader at the company.

Messages seeking comment from Janssen have been left by the Lincoln Journal Star (https://bit.ly/1JUA7Z4 ).

In his Friday letter to the Nebraska Accountability and Disclosure Commission, Janssen maintains that there’s no conflict of interest under the law.

“Nevertheless, for the sake of transparency, I have directed APA staff to contract with an outside independent audit firm to carry out the financial examination work at DHHS for the RTG Medical contracts and related services utilized by that agency,” Janssen wrote. “By doing so, I have effectively removed myself from the oversight of that audit work - thereby ensuring that it will be performed independently, without the possibility of any actual or perceived conflict of interest on my part.”

His letter also asks the commission if such an arrangement would “effectively mitigate any potential conflicts of interest or other concerns” or whether he needs to take additional steps.

The commission’s executive director, Frank Daley, said its staff could provide an informal advisory opinion later this month. Daley said if Janssen wants a formal opinion from the commissioners themselves, it would probably take until at least Oct. 16, the date of their next meeting.

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Information from: Lincoln Journal Star, https://www.journalstar.com

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