On Nov. 5, Chesterfield County residents will elect a new county treasurer. It’s the first contested treasurer’s election in 40 years.
Although such a race may normally seem “humdrum,” the specter of a dismissed five-year-old forgery charge and five years of delinquent personal property taxes against Democrat nominee Michael Jackson has been recently raised by his Republican opponent, Rebecca Longnaker.
County treasurer Carey Adams has been employed by the county for over 31 years, according to Longnaker, but has only been in his current position since being appointed in January 2017 to replace Richard Cordle. Adams was unopposed in a special election to finish Cordle’s four-year term in November 2017. Adams decided not to run again, but has endorsed Longnaker. However, Cordle, a Republican, endorsed Jackson.
Longnaker has worked as deputy treasurer since May 2017, where she manages the accounting and the investment portfolio.
“I have helped to update the county’s investment policy to ensure Chesterfield’s investment strategy remains prudent and secure,” she said in an email. “I am proud that our work has resulted in greater investment revenue for the county, having been recognized by the board of supervisors [in] May 2019 for an increase of over $7 million in investment revenue over the prior year.”
Longnaker also said she played a key role in the implementation of a new tax management system, and worked in private industry as an auditor before starting employment with the county in 2013.
She promised to not use the office as a political stepping stone.
Jackson is a forensic accountant, working in the specialty practice area of accounting that describes engagements that result from actual or anticipated disputes or litigation. “Forensic” means suitable for use in court.
Jackson said he has 20 years of experience in public and private sectors, including nearly 10 years as a certified fraud examiner. He has also been a planning commissioner since 2016.
On Oct. 9, Longnaker issued a press release in which she referenced a misdemeanor forgery charge against Jackson related to doctor’s notes that was dismissed in 2015, according to the Richmond Times-Dispatch. She called the RTD report “very troubling.”
Richmond city auditor Umesh Dalal said the case was dismissed after Jackson provided restitution for used sick days, according to the daily.
Last week, Jackson denied paying restitution. “This case was the retaliation by a boss [Dalal] who was ultimately fired because of similar behavior towards other employees,” Jackson said in an email. “The disgraced city auditor’s recollection conveniently omits whistle-blowing claims that ultimately led to his resignation and inaccurately reports payment of restitution.”
Jackson said he was singled out because he was a whistle-blower who spoke out about what he said was a misuse of power by Dalal.
“The recent accusations by my opponent are very surprising,” Jackson said. “My background has been out and available for months, yet the day after her previous department head endorses me, she now is concerned and attacks me.”
“This race should be about experience and expertise,” Jackson said. “Rather than tear down my opponent, I have sought to run a positive campaign and to present my qualifications. I would run the office of the treasurer in a similar manner – to create a positive work environment so staff members can do their best to serve the citizens of the county.”
Longnaker said Jackson’s behavior could negatively affect the county’s AAA bond rating, which allows the county to borrow money at the lowest possible interest rate. “The integrity and ethics of the treasurer are a key component of maintaining that rating,” she said. “Jackson’s unethical behavior as an employee of the city of Richmond may put this status in jeopardy…”
The Village News recently received information that Jackson was delinquent on personal property taxes in Chesterfield County from 2011-15. He did not respond to an email for comment by deadline.
According to county Freedom of Information Act liaison David Goode, Jackson was delinquent and paid the taxes late four months and 19 days in 2011; eight months and six days late in 2012; 11 days, 14 months and five days, and one month and seven days in 2013; one month and 10 days, and one month and 11 days in 2014; and three months and seven days in 2015.
Goode said that personal property taxes can be billed throughout the calendar year and may have different due dates.
The treasurer position pays $130,459 a year, according to county spokeswoman Susan Pollard, who noted that the salary is set by the state compensation board.