Consulting firm hired by Garfield County assessor defends its gas auditing capabilities

Phillip YatesPost Independent Staff Glenwood Springs, CO Colorado

GLENWOOD SPRINGS – The firm hired to audit gas companies with local operations is disputing an anonymous letter that questions its ability to conduct the audit.The anonymous letter criticized Martindale Consultants, the company Garfield County commissioners last month contracted with for up to $250,000 to audit county gas production for the reporting years of 2002 through 2007. Each reporting year is for production during the year before.The audit will first examine Williams Production RMT, EnCana Oil & Gas (USA) and Petroleum Development Corp., said Garfield County Assessor John Gorman. “We are hoping to complete the audit of these three companies this year,” Gorman said.Gorman, a Democrat, beat Republican incumbent Shannon Hurst last year after making an election promise to audit energy production. He has contended that the industry, a chief source of revenues for many taxing districts in the county, may have underpaid taxes by millions of dollars.The anonymous letter writer said that only certified public accountants can perform audits and that Martindale is not a certified public accounting firm. The letter was sent to local media members, government officials and companies. “Martindale Consultants cannot do what they are hired to do,” the letter said.In response, W. Patrick Martindale, the president of the consulting firm, sent the county a four-page letter in a defense of his company. Martindale, in his letter, wrote that the anonymous letter’s contention that the firm cannot perform an audit because it is not a certified public accounting firm was “patently false.””Internal auditors are generally not certified public accountants and the practice of internal auditing does not constitute the practice of public accounting,” Martindale wrote.Gorman said he checked the firm’s references and spoke with many people about its ability to do the job. He was convinced the company could do it well, he said.”It’s my opinion that Martindale Consultants brings everything necessary to do the finest job possible in the matter of auditing the gas and oil industry here in Garfield County,” Gorman said.The anonymous letter pointed out that Martindale Consultants, which is based in Oklahoma City, reportedly removed all references to auditing on its company Web page.Martindale responded by saying the company updated its website after the state of Texas informed the company that the words “auditor” and “accountant” in advertising are reserved, by statute, for companies that are certified public accounting firms.”For this reason, we agreed to change our website, since it is available to Texas viewers,” Martindale wrote.The anonymous letter also included a criticism that the consulting firm doesn’t “even review under the rules and standards of public accounting – known in the accounting industry as generally accepted accounting principles (GAAP) and generally accepted auditing standards (GAAS).”However, Martindale wrote that Garfield County’s bid for the work required that audits be conducted, not in accordance with GAAP or GAAS, but in “accordance with the most recent … guidelines for revenue audits and expenditure audits in the petroleum industry.”Martindale wrote that it was the company’s hunch that the writer was a woman from Billings, Mont., who “worked for a company we audited last spring and wasn’t pleased with our audit expectations, to say the least.” He also wrote that the woman reportedly accused the firm of practicing law and accounting without a license.”Of course, neither activity describes the services our firm provides,” Martindale wrote.The writer of the anonymous letter also reportedly filed complaint letters with the bar associations in Montana and Texas, along with letters to those states’ public accountancy boards, Martindale wrote. According to his letter, the Public Accountancy Board of Montana has tabled the complaint against the firm “indefinitely for lack of support from the complainant.””We have responded to the unauthorized practice of law complaint in Texas and Montana and expect a complete dismissal of all complaints, based on conversations with attorneys in both states,” Martindale wrote in his letter.Contact Phillip Yates: 384-9117pyates@postindependent.comPost Independent, Glenwood Springs, Colorado CO

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