Today's Edition Local News Missouri News Nation World Opinion Obits Sports GoMidMo Events Classifieds Jobs Newsletters Search
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT
story.lead_photo.caption

Five people want to be Missourians' choice on Nov. 6 as the next state auditor.

The current auditor, Democrat Nicole Galloway, was appointed to the office in April 2015, following elected Auditor Tom Schweich's suicide in February 2015, just weeks after he had been sworn in to a second four-year term.

Missouri's auditor must meet the same constitutional qualifications as the governor — to be at least 30 years old, a United States citizen for at least 15 years and a Missouri resident for at least 10 years before the election.

State law requires the auditor to be bonded before he or she can begin serving in the office.

There is no requirement that the auditor be an accountant, although that has been an issue in various auditor's races over the years.

State law says the auditor "shall have free access to all offices of this state for the inspection of such books, accounts and papers as concern any of his duties," and is authorized to keep records "necessary for the proper performance of his duties," as long as those"original records" don't "duplicate the records kept by the commissioner of administration."

State law Chapter 29 spells out the auditor's duties.

Only Republican Saundra McDowell faced a primary in August, when she was the winner among four candidates seeking the office.

The other four candidates on the November ballot were unopposed in August.

As they appear on the ballot, the candidates are:

McDowell, a Republican from Jefferson City.

Galloway, a Democrat who lives in Columbia.

Sean O'Toole, a Libertarian from Kansas City.

Don Fitz, of St. Louis, a Green Party candidate.

Jacob Luetkemeyer, of California, representing the Constitution Party.

We asked all five candidates the same questions. Any references to the proposed Clean Missouri amendment to Missouri's Constitution were made before Cole County Circuit Judge Dan Green ruled Friday that the petition violated the constitutional requirements for getting on to the ballot.

The supporters have appealed — and we've left Clean Missouri comments in these answers because another court decision could overturn Judge Green's ruling.

Some of the candidates' answers have been edited for brevity or clarity.

Saundra McDowell

SAUNDRA McDOWELL, Republican

AGE: 38

FAMILY: Married to Jonathan McDowell nearly 10 years; 5 children (twins 5, twins 4 and a 2 year old).

EDUCATION: 1998 graduate, Enid High School, Enid, Oklahoma; 2007 graduate, bachelor's degree in philosophy (minor in politics), Drake University, Des Moines, Iowa; 2010 law degree, from Regent University, Virginia Beach, Virginia.

WORK EXPERIENCE: Joined the U.S. Air Force, 1999-2007 — received extensive medical service training, emergency medical training, medical mobility training and intensive care training. Worked in the Missouri Attorney General's Office under Chris Koster, on Medicaid fraud cases; Secretary of State's Securities Division, 2017-18.

Why do you want to be the next state auditor?

"I have served my country in the Air Force for eight years, I have served the state of Missouri working as an assistant attorney general and as the state's director of Enforcement for the secretary of state's Securities Division, and I want to continue to serve my state as the next state auditor.

"I have an excellent track record of returning millions of dollars of taxpayer funds, and individual investment funds, back to Missourians, and I want to bring that experience to the state auditor's office.

"I'm running because the current auditor has a laundry list of problems in the office stemming from employment issues to the auditors not being properly trained.

"This is not how we want our auditor's office to operate. The auditor's office should be working with the counties, not against them."

What is the auditor supposed to do?

"I believe that anywhere taxpayer funds go, the auditor's office should have jurisdiction to look into those funds to make sure they are being used efficiently, effectively, and legally.

"The auditor's office has jurisdiction to audit all state agencies, boards and commissions, elected officials, the Missouri court system, and all counties that do not have their own county auditor.

"Currently, the auditor is not up to date on the audits and has done a minimal job of auditing places that are known to have problems. The counties that are under the auditor's jurisdiction have gone four and five years without an audit conducted, when prior state auditors were auditing the counties every two years.

"When the State Watchdog is not watching, theft occurs and that's what we've seen in several counties. If she would have been doing her job, some instances of fraud may have never occurred. A person in one small county would never have stolen $60,000, and another would not have stolen over $40,000."

What qualifies you to do the auditor's work?

"I am an attorney and have already been prosecuting fraud with the state of Missouri.

"I was an assistant attorney general prosecuting Medicaid fraud, working with and leading auditors and investigators to uncover fraud, waste and abuse in the Medicaid program.

"When Secretary (Jay) Ashcroft became our secretary of state, I became his Securities Division's director of Enforcement, managing and leading the Enforcement Section looking into securities fraud. We audited and investigated investment advisors and broker dealers to make sure they were using Missourians' hard-earned money appropriately and, if not, we would require they change their practices, reimburse the investor, or we would prosecute them if they had fraudulent behavior.

"I have been instrumental in bringing back over $10 million of taxpayer and individual investment funds to Missourians.

"In addition, some of our best state auditors have been attorneys and not CPAs. Kit Bond, John Ashcroft, and Tom Schweich were all wonderful state auditors, and have done a lot for the state of Missouri."

What do you see as the main issue(s) the auditor's office will face in the next few years?

"One of the biggest issues is the Clean Missouri ballot initiative, which is on the ballot in November.

"If passed, redistricting power will be given to the state auditor's office. This would immediately politicize a nonpartisan office. If redistricting power is in the wrong hands, it will be devastating to Missourians.

"I do not believe that either party affiliate should have sole power in appointing a demographer to redistrict our state. If passed, the state auditor must be wise and consider the long term impact of the decisions made with redistricting. Attorneys are trained to consider long term and far ranging effects of their actions. If redistricting becomes part of the state auditor's duties, I will do everything I can to make the effort a bipartisan, and unbiased, procedure.

"If Clean Missouri does not pass, the main issue of the state auditor's office is the unfinished business that Auditor Schweich left when he passed away. Tom Schweich was uncovering corruption across the state and I plan to continue his mission, as his initiatives are incomplete."

Should voters care about the party label you're running with?

"I believe once elected to be the state auditor, you should be nonpartisan and nonpolitical.

"All audits should be conducted consistently and efficiently, no matter who or what you're auditing.

"I will be auditing offices that are both Republican and Democrat, and the party affiliation should not come into play during those audits. The auditor's office acts as a shield, to help protect those offices, and every office should be protected the same way.

"Even so, elected offices in Missouri should reflect Missouri Values and the intention of Missouri voters. Missouri voters unequivocally stated they wanted a fiscally conservative Republican in office in 2014, and had Tom Schweich not passed away, Missourians would currently have a Republican in office.

"However, we now have a Democrat (who was chosen) by party bosses without regard for the desires or intentions of Missourians. We need to restore Missourians' desires to the office by electing a Republican: me."

Why should voters choose you on Election Day?

"I'm a Christian, a wife, a mother, an Air Force veteran, and an attorney with discipline and strong work ethic. I will be the people's auditor. I'm not a politician, and I've never wanted to run for any other office. I'm doing this to serve Missourians, to serve the great State of Missouri, and to restore trust in elected government.

"We need good people in office, and I promise to work hard to provide a better future for your family and mine."

Nicole Galloway

NICOLE GALLOWAY, Democrat

AGE: 36

FAMILY: Married to Jon Galloway for 10 years; 3 sons, ages 6, 4 and 20 months.

EDUCATION: 2000 graduate, Ursuline Academy, St. Louis; 2004 bachelor's degree (in Applied Mathematics and Economics) from Missouri S&T, Rolla; 2008 MBA (master's in Business Administration) from the University of Missouri-Columbia.

WORK EXPERIENCE: I am a CPA and a Certified Fraud Examiner, and have worked in both private business and public offices. (She was Boone County's treasurer when Gov. Jay Nixon named her to succeed Schweich).

Why do you want to be the next state auditor?

"I want to continue serving as your state auditor because Missouri taxpayers deserve a qualified and independent watchdog in the auditor's office.

"I want to restore the public's trust in Missouri government, and the best way to do that is by rooting out corruption, waste, and mismanagement at all levels of our government."

What is the auditor supposed to do?

"The state auditor is supposed to take a tough look at how all levels of government operate and, through the audit process, hold those entities accountable for how taxpayer money is spent, and how decisions are made on their (taxpayers') behalf."

What qualifies you to do the auditor's work?

"I started in public service as Boone County treasurer because I wanted to use the skills I learned, working as a CPA and an auditor in the private sector, to better serve Missourians.

"As Boone County treasurer I managed a $100 million investment portfolio and nearly $200 million in annual revenues.

"Both my public and private sector work experience has paid off, and in just three years as your state auditor, I have found over $300 million in government fraud, waste, and mismanagement.

"My audits have also led to over 35 criminal counts filed against public officials for corruption and mismanagement of taxpayer funds."

What do you see as the main issue(s) the auditor's office will face in the next few years?

"I have seen the corrupting influence of dark money take off in Jefferson City.

"If elected to continue serving as auditor, I will take this problem on first. My office worked to pass a bipartisan anti-corruption bill, which was, unfortunately, vetoed by the former governor (Eric Greitens).

"Next year I will press the issue, because Missourians deserve more transparency in government."

Should voters care about the party label you're running with?

"I've worked as state auditor now under both Democrat and Republican leadership in Jefferson City.

"I have issued audits that were deemed tough but fair by both political parties.

"It should matter more that I have proven myself to be a qualified and independent auditor, than the political party I align with.

"Missourians should be wary of electing a candidate who hasn't proven she can stand up to her own party when the need arises."

Why should voters choose you on Election Day?

"When it comes to protecting your hard-earned tax dollars, I have the experience and proven track record to continue getting results."

Sean O'Toole

SEAN O'TOOLE, Libertarian

AGE: 57

FAMILY: Divorced; no children.

EDUCATION: Hamline University, St. Paul, Minnesota, with a bachelor's degree in business/economics.

WORK EXPERIENCE: Executive in software development for past three years. Spent 25 years in agricultural commodity trading. Past member Kansas City Board of Trade and Minneapolis Grain Exchange. Current member Chicago Board of Trade.

Why do you want to be the next state auditor?

"I'd like to bring Libertarian sensibilities to the office of the Missouri state auditor.

"I'd like for Missourians to feel that their state auditor is working on their behalf to ferret out malfeasance and incompetence at the state, county, and local levels of government."

What is the auditor supposed to do?

"The auditor has responsibility for executing financial and performance audits of some 200 state agencies, boards and commissions as well as the state's judicial branch, counties lacking an auditor, cities (with the exception of St. Louis, Springfield and Kansas City), school districts, and special taxing districts such as Community Improvement Districts and Transportation Development Districts.

"The state auditor oversees staff auditors and contract auditors hired to conduct these audits."

What qualifies you to do the auditor's work?

"In addition to an education in business and economics, I have served in executive level management positions from small businesses to Fortune 500 companies. In these roles, I have been directly involved in the audit process and have participated in the audit review process."

What do you see as the main issue(s) the auditor's office will face in the next few years?

"One of the principal issues that I see moving to the forefront in the coming years is our state employee pension funds.

"Traditionally, the state auditor has followed the guidance of the outside auditors retained by the various pension funds, but actuarial assumed rates of return are still unreasonably high, given our current investment environment.

"This high level of expected returns offers retirees and current workers a false sense of security, with regard to the funds' ability to pay pensioners their promised benefits."

Should voters care about the party label you're running with?

"I think it CAN matter what party a candidate belongs to.

"The Libertarian Party offers voters a clear choice from the two old parties that have brought us to the brink of financial ruin and social disorder.

"The Libertarian Party stands for personal freedom and personal responsibility."

Why should voters choose you on Election Day?

"When Missourians go to the polls this Nov. 6, I'd like them to consider my experience as well as my Libertarian values when they choose the candidate for whom they will vote."

Don Fitz

DON FITZ, Green Party

AGE: 70

FAMILY: Married to Barbara Chicherio since 1984 (a second marriage); 2 adult children from first marriage (ages 42 and 40); one grandson, 5.

EDUCATION: Dropped out of high school at 16; later earned a bachelor's degree in psychology from the University of Oregon, 1969; doctorate degree in social psychology, University of Texas at Austin, 1974.

WORK EXPERIENCE: Research Psychologist for 25 years at St. Louis State Hospital. Has taught a variety of psychology courses at the University of Texas at Austin; Austin Community College; Valparaiso University; Southern Illinois University at Edwardsville; the University of MissouriSt. Louis; Maryville University in St. Louis; Harris-Stowe State University, St. Louis; St. Louis Community College, at both Meramec and Forest Park campuses; Fontbonne University, St. Louis; and Washington University, St. Louis. Has published in multiple psychology and evaluation professional journals.

Why do you want to be the next state auditor?

"Missouri needs an auditor who will grapple with financial aspects of the difficult environmental and social justice issues of today."

What is the auditor supposed to do?

"The Missouri state auditor is supposed to ensure the proper use of public funds and to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of Missouri government, by performing audits of state agencies and political subdivisions."

What qualifies you to do the auditor's work?

"I have a grasp of critical issues confronting Missouri, experience supervising people with different degrees than mine, and have worked with a wide variety of people in academic, environmental and social justice settings.

"The State Auditor does NOT have to have a CPA degree, but needs to be able to direct the work of staff who do."

What do you see as the main issue(s) the auditor's office will face in the next few years?

"A. In July 2018, a San Francisco jury awarded $289 million to groundskeeper Dewayne Johnson, due to cancer resulting from his exposure to Monsanto's herbicide Roundup.

"Governmental practices could be poisoning workers, students, community members, wildlife and pets visiting these areas.

"The single most important task of the auditor is to examine the purchase of Roundup and other herbicides for use on roadways, state parks, schools and public buildings, and potential liability of Missouri if use of poisonous chemicals is not discontinued.

"B. The auditor must examine how Missouri would cope with costs associated with a catastrophic accident at the Callaway Nuclear Plant, given that the 1954 (federal) Price-Anderson Act limits liability of the responsible company.

"C. The auditor must help lay the groundwork for Expanded Medicare for All, by examining how much of MOHealthNet money goes to corporate profits rather than care of Medicaid recipients.

"D. I am probably the only candidate who pledges to hire minority auditors in the same proportion as they exist in Missouri's population.

"I will audit state contracts to determine if they are awarded to black contractors in the same proportion as the black population of Missouri.

"E. The auditor must examine costs of militarizing police (armored vehicles, assault rifles, swat teams, etc.) throughout the state, as well as determine if crime rates have changed following this policy.

"F. The auditor must examine health care of Missouri prisoners, to determine if funds are appropriately spent to meet "Community Standards" as required by state law; costs associated with "three strikes" sentencing along with crime rates since such laws were passed; costs of solitary confinement, including potential lawsuit costs from its inappropriate use; and taxes paid by prisoners for purchased items which the Department of Corrections obtains tax free.

"G. The auditor must determine how much more Missouri pays for the death penalty than the less-expensive option of life without parole, including death penalty trials, appeals, stays of execution and all costs to local jurisdictions.

"H. The auditor must examine all costs associated with the continued criminalization of marijuana, including law enforcement training, arrests, trials, appeals, incarceration and parole supervision.

"I. The auditor must examine financial issues with public schools, including whether the costs of standardized testing can be justified by benefits in student learning; whether money from the lottery, which was justified in 1988 as going to education, has actually resulted in money being removed from other sources of funding; and potential lawsuits against Missouri due to toxins (such as lead, mold and asbestos) in schools and juvenile detention centers.

"J. The auditor needs to look at the formula of state employee retirement (based on years of work and highest salary), to see if it is biased against women who had to move due to their husband's employment, resulting in fewer years of work and lower pay."

Should voters care about the party label you're running with?

"The Green Party is the only one with a genuine focus on human health, environmental protection and social justice."

Why should voters choose you on Election Day?

"Big corporations are laying the foundation for the destruction of human life via climate change, species extinction, and the use of toxins and resource extraction.

"It is necessary to forgo business as usual, look in political directions that realize the true dangers we are facing, and be willing to confront them."

Jacob Luetkemeyer

JACOB LUETKEMEYER, Constitution Party

AGE: 39

FAMILY: Married to Christina Luetkemeyer for 15 years; 8 children, ages 16, 14, 12, 10, 7, 5, 3 and 8 months.

EDUCATION: 1997 Jefferson City High School graduate; 2006 Columbia College graduate (Jefferson City campus) with a bachelor's degree in Business Administration and an emphasis in Accounting.

Why do you want to be the next state auditor?

"Government continues to expand outside of its original intended role, squandering taxpayer dollars and intruding in our daily lives.

"With today's technology and resources, there is no excuse for the lack of accountability allowing this to happen.

"As a lifelong Missouri resident, I want to do my part in bringing transparency and accountability back to Missouri government."

What is the auditor supposed to do?

"Based on Article IV, Section 13 of the Missouri Constitution, the auditor is to establish and maintain appropriate systems of accounting for all public officials of the state, as well as the political subdivisions of the state.

"The auditor is also responsible for auditing these systems, performing all audits and investigations by law, but is limited to activities related only to the supervising and auditing of the financial activity of public funds."

What qualifies you to do the auditor's work?

"I have a diverse background in business management, accounting, IT and analytics.

"While operating a family retail business, I utilized my accounting education and experience to develop my own Point of Sale and Accounting software.

"I customized this software with sales analytics and automation to gain efficiency.

"I have continued to expand my skills in the IT industry, utilizing my programming and database knowledge to provide automation support to my team, again creating high levels of efficiency.

"I have also provided Audit and Compliance support for multiple clients, gaining experience in auditing processes.

"My current role includes performing data analytics, automation support, and providing team members with assistance during client audits."

What do you see as the main issue(s) the auditor's office will face in the next few years?

"The current process for auditing is expensive and very inefficient, resulting in less than 5 percent of government entities being audited.

"I believe the office is long overdue for upgrading its technology and accounting systems across the state (and) I believe it will continue to get more expensive for us to perform audits, with less than desirable results, unless we put some focus on upgrading our system."

Should voters care about the party label you're running with?

"I believe it is more important for voters to educate themselves on the candidate's character and experience, more than party affiliation.

"I have joined the Constitution party because my values are best represented with this party affiliation.

"I believe in small, limited government dedicated to serving the people by adhering to the responsibilities we have granted to it through the Constitution."

Why should voters choose you on Election Day?

"I am the only candidate with solutions that will not only benefit Missourians during my time in office, but future generations to come.

"I believe we can not improve the quality of the audits and gain a greater level of transparency without taking a strong look at how the office is currently operating — the goal being to design and implement more advanced solutions that can keep up with the greater amount of financial activity now taking place within our governing bodies.

"My ideas are much different than all the other candidates, and I believe my education and experience will assist me not only to implement these ideas but lead the office in a non-partisan direction."

ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT