CLAY COUNTY, Mo. — Missouri Auditor Nicole Galloway’s office has filed a motion to dismiss a lawsuit filed by the Clay County Commission, trying to prevent her office from accessing certain documents in an ongoing audit.
“Today’s motion seeks to quickly bring an end to this unnecessary lawsuit. Thousands of Clay County citizens demanded accountability from their government. They deserve answers, not costly efforts to prevent auditors from fulfilling their duty under the law,” Galloway’s office said in a statement.
The Clay County Commission filed a lawsuit last month, asking a judge to rule on whether she has the authority to obtain some documents related to an audit of the county.
“Despite this prompt and thorough cooperation, Auditor Nicole Galloway has made an extraordinary and invasive request for attorney-client privileged information of the county,” the county said in a statement. “This information includes personnel records of individual employees, confidential contract negotiations and legal advice in pending lawsuits against Clay County taxpayers. To divulge this information to third parties would put Clay County taxpayers in a disastrous legal position.”
For her part, Galloway contends that Clay County has not been cooperating.
FOX4 first reported in February 2018 about the formation of a non-partisan group of citizens with questions about what they considered wasteful county spending and internal administrative procedures that don’t protect taxpayers.
In June, that group submitted more than 9,100 signatures to the state, seeking an audit of Clay County operations. The citizens group said every mayor in Clay County signed the petition as well as about 70 current or former elected leaders.
Galloway told FOX4 in June she planned to examine contract bidding processes, professional service contracts and county credit card spending. Those are among the concerns with which whistle-blowers have called her office to register complaints.
The audit was initially expected to take about one year to complete. It’s unclear whether that timeline will be pushed back.
The cost to taxpayers to conduct the audit is approximately $100,000 to $150,000. It could be more with the delays.
Petition organizers previously told FOX4 they hope to change county practices that they believe have resulted in wasteful spending, higher taxes and big pay raises for county commissioners and administrators.