Missouri State Auditor Nicole Galloway was in agreement Wednesday with the Missouri Senate's Majority Floor Leader Caleb Rowden — an independent audit of Galloway's office should be put underway as soon as possible.
Rowden, R-Columbia, is chairman of the Senate's Committee on Rules, Joint Rules, Resolutions and Ethics. The committee on Wednesday had a hearing on SB 927 — filed by President Pro Tem Dave Schatz, R-Sullivan, who also is vice chairman of the committee — which would require the General Assembly to authorize an independent certified public accountant to audit the state auditor's office during the current calendar year.
Biannual audits of the auditor's office are required by state law. Rowden said the most recent audit was in 2017, and because one did not happen last year — he said the House did not pass the legislation he had filed to do that — "this should have already happened."
This year's audit proposal came amid a certain context, though, with Schatz having sent a letter of concern about the integrity of Galloway's office to Gov. Mike Parson earlier this year.
That letter was prompted by accusations made by one of Missouri's two Republican U.S. senators, Josh Hawley.
Hawley in January publicly criticized Galloway and her office for perceived bias in preparation of an audit of his tenure as Missouri attorney general.
Part of that audit — on whether Hawley used state resources for political purposes — was released last month, and while the report found there was no clear evidence of state laws having been broken, it did find Hawley appeared to have used state resources for political purposes — through coordination between Hawley's staff and Senate campaign-paid consultants, staff using campaign resources to meet with consultants for purposes which were not always documented, and Hawley's use of a state vehicle and driver/security detail for some trips for which the purpose was not documented on travel itineraries and state vehicle mileage logs.
The audit stated at least a portion of some of the trips had political purposes, and other trips had the appearance of being "personal in nature."
Hawley's campaign also announced last month that a formal complaint was being filed against Galloway with the Missouri State Board of Accountancy, "regarding State Auditor Nicole Galloway's misconduct" that Hawley alleged was involved with the audit.
Missouri Department of Commerce and Insurance spokeswoman Lori Croy said Wednesday the department could not give a status of the complaint, or even confirm or deny whether any individual complaint has been filed.
However, Croy noted any disciplinary action resulting from a complaint becomes public and is available on the State Board of Accountancy's website.
Galloway and her staff have repeatedly defended the audit and their professionalism, including before a Missouri House committee.
Rowden said there's no intention of making the audit of Galloway's office political and said it's in everyone's interest, including Galloway's, for the independent audit to be completed as soon as possible.
Galloway is a Democratic gubernatorial candidate vying for the position against current Republican Gov. Mike Parson.
There is an emergency clause on Schatz's bill, and if the bill is passed and signed by Parson, the current text includes that within 30 days the commissioner of the Office of Administration would bid the services for the independent audit.
Galloway on Monday wrote to Schatz and copied Parson, the Missouri speaker of the House and House and Senate majority and minority leaders on the letter, stating: "If it is your sincere belief that an audit of the Auditor's Office is an emergency, there should be no delay in having this bill get to Gov. Parson's desk. In order to ensure that the audit is independent, it should be completed before this legislative session ends."
Galloway reiterated that message in a video posted Wednesday afternoon by the state auditor's office's Twitter account: "I welcome an independent, non-partisan review. In fact, a legislative-mandated audit of my office could have already begun."
She cited her letter to legislative leaders and Parson, "urging them to act quickly, and pass sign this measure into law. There should be no delay. And, to ensure the audit is independent, it should be completed before the Legislature adjourns in May.
"Another audit will only confirm our excellent reputation for professionalism and independence," she added.
Previous audits of the state auditor's office are available at auditor.mo.gov/annualreport/annualreports.