Former state auditor Les Merritt has formed a nonprofit foundation dedicated to rooting out public corruption.
The Foundation for Ethics in Public Service opened its doors in May and exists to help expose corruption across the nation, Merritt said. Unlike his time as auditor, Merritt won't have the advantage of being able to order agencies to cooperate. He said the foundation will rely on the same tactics and methods used by investigative journalists — good tips and public records.
"We need more watchdogs you just can't get too many out there," Merritt said.
Merritt, a Republican, lost his seat last year to Democrat Beth Wood.
The foundation will rely on anonymous tips for many of its investigations. Others may come from journalists, who because of staff cuts, don't have the time to pursue stories in detail. The foundation can check things out and turn the information over to reporters, he said.
Frank Perry, a retired FBI agent and former investigations chief under Merritt will direct investigations for the foundation.
Merritt said the foundation has a funding pledge from the John William Pope Foundation, which is directed by conservative patron and former lawmaker Art Pope.
Merritt says that his organization will be nonpartisan. Merritt said he does not plan to run for auditor again.
"I honestly believe this can be more worthwhile," he said. "I don't ever plan on running agin. It's certainly not helping me get set up that way. This can be a whole lot more fun."