State Auditor calls for investigation of Greene County

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SPRINGFIELD, Mo. -- The Missouri State Auditor’s office is asking Greene County to request an independent investigation into possible misuse of public resources.

Auditor Nicole Galloway says a credible whistleblower reached out to her and let her know that county employees may have campaigned for the half-cent tax ballot measure while on county time.

“According to the documents that were sent to my office, it seems that an email was sent to county employees with official lining of plans to campaign for the sales tax measure, and so further investigation needs to be done looking at the potential of other county resources that were used,” Galloway said in a phone interview.

The Greene County Commissioners released a statement saying they would co-operate with Galloway, but there’s no timetable for this investigation.

“It's critically important that tax payers are protected,” Galloway said. “Public funds can't be used for this type of activity. Tax payers expect their resources, their money that they send to government is used appropriately. And that's the heart of this investigation is trying to figure out what happened.”

Commissioner Lincoln Hough, who opposed the measure, was the only County Commissioner to release his own statement.

“I am committed to see that we provide full and unrestricted access to the State Auditor,” it said. “I understand that the Auditor was likely tipped by a whistleblower who may be a County employee. I will protect any employee that sees potential wrongdoing to know they can report without fear of retribution.”

This investigation has no clear path forward because of a current quirk in oversight rules. Galloway’s office is asking Greene County to ask her for an investigation since they don’t have explicit authority to start that investigation on their own.

Galloway says they would have that power if Gov. Greitens hadn’t vetoed a bill that Springfield Senator Bob Dixon sponsored this summer.

“Had that bill passed, our line of authority would be much more direct and clear to address this very issue,” Galloway said. “This is the reason we presented a bill like this.”