October 26, 2020
Missouri State Auditor Nicole Galloway today released a statement on the recent ruling in Clay County Court affirming the State Auditor’s authority to access routine records and information associated with a citizen-mandated audit of Clay County. The ruling is the result of action taken by the State Auditor’s Office last year to demand compliance with subpoenas for documents and information necessary to complete audit work.
“I remain committed to the fight for answers on behalf of Clay County citizens. For too long, county commissioners ignored taxpayers’ calls for accountability. That’s why our office went to court to demand answers and ensure we get the facts. The court’s ruling requires that Clay County officials comply with my audit and stop their obstruction. This ruling is not just a win for the people of Clay County — it’s a win for all Missourians who exercise their right to hold their government accountable in the pursuit of transparency.”
Last year, County Commission officials failed to fulfill records requests, resulting in Auditor Galloway issuing subpoenas to require documents and testimony. On Dec. 4, 2019, the State Auditor’s Office filed in Clay County court to demand compliance with the subpoenas. The court’s recent ruling requires the production of closed meeting minutes and certain performance appraisals. The ruling also requires the assistant county administrator to answer questions from audit staff.
Read the full order here.
The audit of Clay County was initiated after a citizen petition was submitted to the Auditor’s Office and then verified to have more than the minimum 5,590 signatures of county residents who are registered voters. The audit began in December 2018.
In January 2019, the Clay County Commission sued to prevent the Auditor from conducting the citizen-mandated audit. An Oct. 24, 2019, court ruling confirmed the Auditor’s legal authority to conduct performance audits and dismissed the County Commission’s lawsuit against the Auditor. That case is currently on appeal in the Missouri Court of Appeals, Western District.
To date, the State Auditor’s Office has issued audits of the Clay County clerk, public administrator and recorder of deeds. The recent ruling will ensure audit teams have access to necessary information for ongoing audits of other Clay County offices.