Karl Kampe caught the attention of the Nassau County comptroller’s office when he retired last week. Kampe had been the secretary and chief examiner of the county’s Civil Service Commission, and for the last year and a half he had worked from home.
“What we’re doing is, we’re going to give the termination pay request and the hours worked to accrue them some heightened scrutiny,” County Comptroller Jack Schnirman said. “In light of this highly irregular arrangement, we believe the request merits some scrutiny.”
He noted that the work from home agreement was approved by former Deputy County Executive Richard “Rob” Walker, who was charged last month with obstruction of justice and making false statements to the FBI as part of a federal investigation into corruption in Nassau County.
Kampe was making $174,541 annually when he retired. He had been in the position since 1992, except for 2001 (he left office when Tom Suozzi became county executive but was rehired a year later). Kampe told Newsday that the agreement stemmed from a serious back injury that he had sustained and that he telecommuted every day from 9 a.m. to 4:45 p.m. He has been working from home since August 2016.
“We’re surprised by how this happened,” Schnirman said. “It raises a host of questions over the past several years.”
The commission ensures that the state’s Civil Service law is being followed and administers qualifying exams for jobs in public service, which is intended to keep the influence of politics out of the hiring process.
Although housed within the county government, the commission is an independent agency the oversees not just the county but municipalities, schools and libraries.
Unlike his other audits of larger government bodies, such as the Industrial Development Agency, Schnirman said he expects the audit of Kampe to be completed in a matter of weeks, not months.
When asked how he would balance this audit with several larger ongoing audits, Schnirman said he would make the most of the resources available to him and his staff.
“We can only deploy resources we have,” he said. “One of the findings I’ve been surprised to see is that the size of the audit division has shrunk in half over the last 10 years. That was really surprising, given the critical importance of auditors to safeguarding public money.”