Missouri auditor accused of falsely disclosing confidential information in Josh Hawley’s audit | KCUR 89.3
Missouri Auditor Nicole Galloway is accused by a state agency of inadmissibly disclosing confidential information during a 2020 audit by former Attorney General Josh Hawley.
The Missouri State Board of Accountancy filed a complaint Dec. 15 seeking permission from the Missouri Administrative Hearing Commission to take disciplinary action against Galloway.
The complaint alleges that she disclosed confidential information when her office attached transcripts of sworn testimony from Hawley staff members to a made public audit and in so doing violated professional standards.
A spokesperson for Galloway, the only Democrat to hold a position in the entire state of Missouri, referred to a comment Galloway made earlier this year when she sued the accounting board in circuit court of Cole County. In that lawsuit, Galloway accused the board of directors of misapplying Missouri law in a way that would prevent the state auditor from disclosing his findings on government waste and fraud.
“Never before in the history of this state has the accountants’ licensing board exercised any authority over the powers and functions of the state auditor,” Galloway said in a September statement. “In attempting to control publicly available information, an appointed board of governors interferes with the auditor’s central role in enforcing government transparency and accountability. It cannot be allowed to stay.
Galloway took legal action when the accounting board threatened her with discipline. His lawsuit is pending and it was not immediately clear why the accounting board filed its complaint last Wednesday.
A person answering the phone at the office of Samantha Anne Green, a Jefferson City lawyer who represents the accounting board in her complaint, said Green could not comment until the matter was resolved.
The flap stems from an audit Galloway did of Hawley’s office after he resigned as attorney general in 2018 to become a United States senator. The state auditor usually performs what are called “closing audits” of state agencies when an elected official who oversees them leaves office.
As the closing audit of Hawley’s office began, Missouri Secretary of State Jay Ashcroft called for an investigation into a complaint filed by the left-wing American Democracy Legal Fund.
That complaint was largely based on a Kansas City Star report in October 2018, when Hawley, a Republican, ran against outgoing U.S. Senator Claire McCaskill.
The newspaper found that Hawley, who campaigned on the idea that he would not use his time as attorney general to run for a higher post, relied on paid political advisers to run the activities of the more top state law enforcement office while bolstering his political profile ahead of his eventual campaign for the Senate.
Galloway’s audit, when released in 2020, confirmed many of The Star’s findings. The audit indicated that the coordination between political agents and attorney general staff had given rise to an appearance of impropriety and that state resources may have been used for political purposes.
Hawley and others objected when the public audit report included transcripts of depositions taken by state auditors of key Hawley associates and advisers. They said the transcripts contained discussions of staff decisions, pending litigation and other matters that should not have been disclosed publicly.
Galloway responded that she disclosed the documents for the sake of transparency.
The accounting board complaint indicates that a Galloway staff member expressed concerns to his supervisor about whether the transcripts should be included in the audit report. That supervisor responded that it was Galloway’s decision to include the transcripts, according to the complaint.
Galloway ran for governor of Missouri in 2020 and lost in a landslide to Mike Parson. She said she would no longer be running for Missouri Auditor.