A state audit released today says Republican Josh Hawley’s office as attorney general might have used state resources to support his run for U.S. Senate. But State Auditor Nicole Galloway, a Democrat running for governor, says there were no clear violations of law. During a press conference today at the Missouri Capitol in Jefferson City, Galloway points to a lack of record keeping in some cases.
She talks about meetings held during regular state working hours between staff and campaign-paid consultants that sometimes did not explain the reason for the meetings. The closeout audit shows private emails and personal calendar meeting invites obtained indicate other meetings or phone conferences might have been held but records of those meetings were not kept or provided. The use of personal text and email to communicate official business and the use of a Google calendar for official meeting invites were in violation of the Attorney General’s Office policies.
The review also says Hawley used a state vehicle and driver/security detail for some trips without always explaining the purpose.
“A state vehicle was used to travel to Lincoln Days in Platte County – an event that is clearly political. In some cases, the state employee serving as driver and security detail took vacation time and received separate payment from federal campaign funds for the time of those specific meetings,” she says. “In his responses, the former attorney general claims to have reimbursed the state. There’s no record of any reimbursements to the state for the use of a state vehicle on these personal and political trips.”
Missouri law allows campaign resources to be used for government purposes but does not authorize government resources to be used for campaign purposes. Section 130.034.4(2), RSMo, permits campaign funds to be used for “ordinary and necessary expenses” incurred in connection with an elected office. But, Galloway says this section neither defines “ordinary and necessary expenses” nor specifies whether using campaign funds to pay consultants to provide administrative guidance is allowable. Section 36.157, RSMo, prohibits state employees from engaging in “political activity” while on duty or while using state resources. But, she says this section does not define “political activity.”
Galloway says the audit details incidents of current Attorney General Eric Schmitt’s staff putting up roadblocks, bullying, and threatening her staff.
“None of this is acceptable and is disappointing how the current Attorney General’s Office conducted itself,” she says. “The former attorney general and the current attorney general have asked for our help in public corruption cases using our audit procedures, our audit standards, these exact auditors that they are questioning now. They don’t have any problems with us doing these exact same procedures with the exact same folks in those public corruption cases, but all the sudden they do. The abuse these dedicated employees and licensed CPAs had to endure is unacceptable. I assume he did not like what this audit said.”
Schmitt’s spokesman, Chris Nuelle provided this statement:
“Auditor Galloway’s claims are ridiculous and unfounded. He says no such claims are even hinted at in the audit report prepared by her staff. From the beginning, Nuelle says the Attorney General’s Office worked tirelessly to cooperate and work with the State Auditor’s Office. That means dedicating thousands of man hours to gather, review, and transmit hundreds of thousands of pages of records, line up interviews and meetings, and respond to requests, all while continuing to perform the normal duties of the Attorney General’s Office. The correspondence from our office showed that we operated in a professional, cooperative manner.”
On Twitter today, Hawley says Galloway’s office engaged in partisan manipulation and potential unethical practices and says the audit was not independent. He says the report reaches the same conclusion as Secretary of State’s report one year ago: no wrongdoing by his office. He has filed a complaint against Galloway with the Board of Accountancy.
Another audit is underway of the general operations of Hawley’s office as attorney general. Closeout reviews are standard procedure when a state elected official leaves office.
To view the audit released today, click here.
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