Earlier this week, the Democratic Party used State Auditor Susan Montee in a news conference accusing Northwest Missouri Congressman Sam Graves of failing to declare ownership of two airplanes and failing to pay personal property taxes on them. But there are some questions about the use of the Auditor in this kind of event.
Here are some of them: Is a state office being used for a political purpose—or is it just the state office-holder who is playing a political role? Has the party used a state office or officer to legitimize a political issue that might have attracted less attention if someone less prominent made the same statements? Is there anything wrong with any of this?
The party’s announcement of the press conference did not refer to Montee as state auditor and she said at the conference that she was there as a Sixth District citizen, not as Auditor. But the title goes with the person regardless of the circumstance and Montee does not sidestep that. She says it’s true that a statewide office-holder would attract more attention than, say, a state representative. But she says it is also true that she is a citizen of that district with a personal interest in the campaign of the person who represents, or will represent, the district in Congress.
She says she did not allow her office to be manipulated to add credibility to the announcement. She says her office works to keep politics out of the auditor’s work. But in her private life she is free to take partisan positions.
Graves by the way says the airplanes are junkers that he’s using for parts, and don’t need to be on the personal property tax rolls