Judge throws out Clay County Commission lawsuit against state auditor, allows audit

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CLAY COUNTY, Mo. — A judge has thrown out a lawsuit filed by the Clay County Commission on Oct. 23 that tried to halt a state audit.

The lawsuit, filed by the county on Thursday, Jan. 31, claimed that State Auditor Nicole Galloway had made “an extraordinary and invasive request” that was not within her constitutional right. Among this information included minutes from closed meetings.

“This information includes personnel records of individual employees, confidential contract negotiations and legal advice in pending lawsuits against Clay County taxpayers,” the county said in a statement when they filed the lawsuit.

In the ruling, Cole County judge Jon Beetem ruled that State Auditor Nicole Galloway has the ability to conduct a “performance audit,” which includes gathering this type of information.

The county argued Galloway was limited to only financial post-audits of county accounts.

“This is a major victory for Clay County taxpayers,” Galloway said in a statement. “This lawsuit represented an unprecedented level of obstruction. With its dismissal, the Clay County Commission should fully cooperate with the audit that citizens demanded.

When asked for a comment, an official with Clay County told FOX4 that they had just received the ruling and had not had time to read it yet.

A two-year-long FOX4 investigation

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. We traveled to Jefferson City to show our findings to Gallaway.

What started off as 1,000 signatures on Election Day turned into nearly 10,000 by the time the group submitted their demand for a county audit to Galloway’s office.

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.

FOX4 uncovered new bills in July, more than $130,000 worth, all paid on a county credit card.

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