COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — A city auditor in central Ohio resigned Thursday after months of drama over his job performance, which included a $1.28 million mistake he made earlier this year in paying the city's taxes.
Marion City Auditor Robert Landon, a Republican, remained defiant in a letter of resignation submitted to Democratic Mayor Scott Schertzer, accusing city leaders of “vile and repulsive politics” that made his job impossible. Landon did not respond to an earlier email from The Associated Press seeking comment.
Marion is a city of about 36,000 people located about 54 miles (86.90 kilometers) north of Columbus.
Landon, a first-term auditor who previously served on city council, had been off the job for weeks with a case of COVID-19, a reason he had cited in his defense as disagreements over his handling of the city's finances escalated — including on Facebook and in broadcasts this week on WWGH's “The Early Show” with Scott Spears.
“I take this action for the protection of my wife and children and to allow my health to recover from the COVID virus,” Landon wrote in his letter to Schertzer. “The constant political attacks and interference with the functioning of my office has simply reached a level that I never thought we would see in our community.”
Besides a $1.28 million tax payment that was misdirected to the state when it should have gone to the IRS, Landon had been unable to reconcile the city's books to the specifications of Republican State Auditor Keith Faber's office, which in turn has delayed completion of the city's required 2020 state audit.
Allie Dumski, a spokesperson for Faber's office, said the state had not yet received the information necessary for reconciliation of Marion's books as of Wednesday — in direct contradiction to Landon's claims.
Schertzer, a Democrat, said he never called for Landon's resignation outright, rather “just wanted him to do his job.”
“As the chief executive of the City of Marion, I need to make sure that the revenue, the taxpayer dollars, are safe and secure,” he said. “Without a good, clean audit, I was concerned that the city's federal funds could be in jeopardy.”
Roughly $2.5 million in federal money was on the line, including grants for police and fire services and the second installment of Marion's $1.7 million allotment from the federal American Rescue Plan Act of 2021.
Though Landon appeared to condition the timing of his resignation on the appointment of a successor, Schertzer said he views the departure as immediate. He named Landon's deputy as interim auditor until the Republican party names a successor.
“I think the city will be able to begin to put itself in a better position with the resignation of the former auditor," he said, “but what concerns me is what we don’t know, what we may yet find out.”