Retiring Republican Missouri State Senator Bob Dixon of Springfield is running for Presiding County Commissioner in Greene County.
He told KOLR-TV that he’s offering himself as an alternative to current GOP seat holder Bob Cirtin, who’s been accused of misusing county funds.
“Some community leaders came to me and just pleaded with me to get in the race because of the problems in Greene County,” said Dixon. “I spoke with my wife and our daughters and I decided with them that we could not sit there in good conscience and not make ourselves available as an alternative so that the people would have a choice in the primary.”
Under Cirtin’s direction, the county spent more than $260,000 on attorney’s fees to the Kansas City law firm Graves Garrett in response to a Missouri Ethics Commission investigation and a requested audit from the Missouri State Auditor following whistleblower complaints.
Dixon told KOLR the image of the region is suffering because of severe missteps by Cirtin.
“We’re the economic engine of the state,” Dixon said. “There’s a million people in our M.S.A. Regionally, we’re a leader. We should be telling that story, not the story that has played out because of terrible choices on the part of the presiding commissioner.”
The Ethics Commission investigated Greene County following a complaint it had misused taxpayer money in promoting a half-cent sales tax to voters before a November 2017 election. The Ethics Commission found the county commission did not misuse taxpayer money to advocate for the tax but says it committed a different violation.
It found the county did incorrectly identify who paid for push cards used to educate the public. The push cards said “paid for by Greene County Sheriff’s Office” when they were actually paid for by Greene County. The county was ordered to pay a $100 fine to the Ethics Commission.
Cirtin and Associate Commissioner Harold Bengsch voted to hire the Kansas City legal firm to address the Ethics Commission probe and other accusations of wrongdoing. The third Commissioner, Lincoln Hough, voted against using the firm. Hough was also a vocal opponent of the other two commissioners’ successful effort to block an investigation by Missouri State Auditor Nicole Galloway.
Twenty whistleblower complaints flowed into Galloway’s office after former county spokeswoman Trysta Herzog became the first. Herzog alleged that she “faced nearly daily coercion … from Presiding Commissioner Bob Cirtin to participate in political activities as part of (her) job.”
A citizen’s petition was launched in December to support an examination by Galloway, who had offered to audit the county for free.
Galloway had maintained that she would be able to more thoroughly conduct an examination of any wrongdoing by the County Commission under her role to expose government corruption, waste, fraud, abuse, and mismanagement. Galloway said her function differed from the Missouri Ethics Commission which looks into violations of campaign finance laws.
Dixon told KOLR he wants to refocus county operations.
“My vision is to, number one: we follow the law,” said Dixon. “Number two: we treat everybody with respect, and when we do that, that courthouse and the 800 people that work at the county, we can do great things. We can do great things and there are some incredible people that work there. A little bit of principled leadership will make us, I think, extremely successful. There’s some great things going on in Greene County and we need to be telling that story.”
Dixon will face Cirtin in the August 7th Republican primary for Greene County Presiding Commissioner. He’s term-limited out of the state Senate having served two four-year terms. Dixon briefly entered the race for Missouri Governor in 2015.
Missourinet media partner KOLR-TV provided content for this story