Missouri State Auditor Nicole Galloway says bipartisan legislation passed during the 2017 legislative session will increase her ability to work with law enforcement to hold public officials accountable for wrongdoing.
Auditor Galloway worked with legislators and law enforcement officials to provide additional tools to law enforcement to fight public corruption. If signed into law, the measure would allow Missouri prosecuting attorneys and law enforcement agencies to request assistance from the State Auditor in investigating financial malfeasance when inappropriate or illegal activity is suspected. It was sponsored by Sen. Bob Dixon with the support of law enforcement and the Missouri Association of Prosecuting Attorneys. Rep. Joe Don McGaugh carried the legislation in the House of Representatives.
"As a certified fraud examiner, I recognize the barriers to identifying fraud and am committed to ensuring Missouri's law enforcement community has the tools necessary to clean up government. When public officials breach the public trust, prosecutors, law enforcement and my office must be able to effectively work together to protect citizens and remove bad actors from office," Auditor Galloway said.
"Protecting taxpayers from fraud and misconduct via the very public servants they elect or hire is job number one. Auditor Galloway and Missouri Prosecutors are to be commended for their successful efforts this session. It's been my honor to work with them to protect taxpayers," Sen. Dixon said.
"Missouri's prosecutors applaud the General Assembly for passing this common sense, good government legislation. By maximizing the resources of the Auditor's office, prosecutors and law enforcement agencies will see stronger investigations when it comes to cases of those who would violate the public trust. We are committed to continuing to work with the Auditor and the legislature to strengthen the criminal laws relating to official misconduct, and to identify ways to continually improve the prosecution of these cases," Missouri Association of Prosecuting Attorneys Executive Director Jason Lamb said.
"Our elected officials should be held to a higher standard and this bill does just that by giving the State Auditor greater authority to look into suspicious activities. This language originated from Auditor Tom Schweich; I appreciate Auditor Galloway making it one of her top legislative priorities and helping get it across the finish line this year," Rep. McGaugh said.
Senate Bill 128, which allows greater partnerships with prosecutors and law enforcement, is awaiting the Governor's signature.
An earlier version of the legislation increased the penalties for public officials convicted of misconduct, but was stalled in the legislative process. Auditor Galloway has pledged to continue working with prosecutors, law enforcement, and Sen. Dixon to ensure tougher penalties are included in the law.
This legislation passed out of the General Assembly during the 2017 legislative session and builds on Auditor Galloway's previous legislative work to increase transparency and accountability for Missouri taxpayers.