ST. LOUIS (AP) — Democratic Missouri Auditor Nicole Galloway and her Republican opponent exchanged heated words at a debate Friday, including one response that drew a gasp from some in the crowd.
Galloway, Republican Saundra McDowell and three others spoke at a candidate forum during the Missouri Press Association's annual convention in suburban St. Louis.
Galloway said McDowell has proven unable to handle her own finances and lied about her residency. The St. Louis Post-Dispatch has reported that McDowell had a Kansas address when a furniture company sued her over a payment in 2013. The Missouri Constitution requires 10 years of residency at the time of election.
Galloway said McDowell has been sued seven times in the last five years for unpaid bills and has more than $50,000 in garnishments and judgments against her. She accused McDowell of being so "financially compromised" that "she might be willing to accept dark money in exchange for looking the other way in audits."
McDowell did not respond directly to those allegations but said Galloway has been sued twice for alleged Sunshine Law violations. She also accused Galloway of failing to perform timely audits in some counties.
"If she's not a watchdog she's just a dog, and I will be a bulldog for this state," McDowell said, drawing gasps from some of the 100 or so editors and publishers in the crowd.
Galloway said Republican Attorney General Josh Hawley investigated the Sunshine Law claims and found no violations.
McDowell opposed Constitutional Amendment 1, which changes the process for redistricting state legislative seats and limits lobbyist gifts. She said she believed it was unconstitutional because it covered too many subjects and agreed with a judge's Friday decision to remove it from the ballot. Galloway said she supported efforts to clean up state government. The amendment would give new powers to the state auditor to oversee the application process for a state demographer who would help draft the legislative districts.
McDowell, 38, is an Air Force veteran and attorney who has worked for the both the Missouri secretary of state and attorney general offices. She defeated three challengers to win the August primary.
Galloway, 36, was appointed auditor by then-Gov. Jay Nixon after the death of Tom Schweich in 2015 and is up for election for the first time. She and U.S. Sen. Claire McCaskill are Missouri's only Democrats holding statewide office.
The forum also included Green Party candidate Don Fitz, Libertarian Sean O'Toole and Constitution Party candidate Jacob Luetkemeyer.