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Our Opinion: Let's hold officials accountable for possible wrongdoings

Our Opinion: Let's hold officials accountable for possible wrongdoings

May 19th, 2017 by News Tribune in Opinion

Among the relatively few bills passed by the Missouri Legislature this year was SB128, which, among other things, will make it easier to hold public officials accountable for wrongdoing, by letting the state auditor do investigations not currently allowed by state law.

Public officials often get a bad rap based on the behavior of a few. The Capitol still is tainted by high-profile incidents that have occurred there in recent years. Still, we believe the vast majority of our public officials are true servants and honorable people.

In other words, we don't share the cynicism of political satirist P.J. O'Roarke, who said: "Giving money and power to government is like giving whiskey and car keys to teenage boys."

So while the bill may target politicians, the long-term effect, we expect, will be to reduce corruption and, in turn, better the public's perception of our elected officials.

One such official, State Auditor Nicole Galloway, said the bipartisan legislation will increase her ability to work with law enforcement to hold public officials accountable for wrongdoing.

The bill, if signed into law, would allow Missouri prosecuting attorneys and law enforcement agencies to request assistance from the state auditor in investigating financial malfeasance when inappropriate or illegal activity is suspected, Galloway said. It was sponsored by Sen. Bob Dixon, R-Springfield, with the support of law enforcement and the Missouri Association of Prosecuting Attorneys.

"As a certified fraud examiner, I recognize the barriers to identifying fraud and am committed to ensuring Missouri's law enforcement community has the tools necessary to clean up government," Galloway said. "When public officials breach the public trust, prosecutors, law enforcement and my office must be able to effectively work together to protect citizens and remove bad actors from office."

The Missouri Association of Prosecuting Attorneys also applauded passage of the bill.

We urge Gov. Eric Greitens to sign this common-sense legislation.