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Missouri board moves to discipline Galloway for Hawley audit

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Posted at 2:39 PM, Dec 22, 2021
and last updated 2021-12-22 15:39:27-05

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. — An accounting oversight board filed a complaint against Missouri's Democratic Auditor Nicole Galloway this month over critical audits of Sen. Josh Hawley's use of public money while he was state attorney general.

The Missouri Board of Accountancy has been threatening to discipline Galloway, a Democrat, for months over the audit of Hawley, a Republican.

Galloway is also a certified public accountant. She's running for reelection as state auditor in 2022.

The Board of Accountancy finally took action against her Dec. 15, filing a complaint with a panel of administrative judges tasked with handling issues that involve state agencies.

An Administrative Hearing Commission hearing on the issue is scheduled for June 2022.

The fight centers on a 2020 audit report that found Hawley might have misused state resources during his successful run for the U.S. Senate.

In response to the audit, Hawley asked the accountancy board to investigate Galloway and her office for any violations of their accountants' certifications.

The board's December complaint hinges on Galloway's decision to include transcripts of interviews with Hawley staffers in the final audit report. The board claimed doing so violated a state law against publicly releasing working papers relating to audit reports.

"Galloway's public disclosure of confidential documents is an act of misconduct and/or gross negligence in the performance of the functions or duties of a CPA and provides cause to discipline Galloway's license as a CPA," the board wrote in its complaint to the Administrative Hearing Commission.

Galloway sued in September in response to earlier threats of discipline from the board, asking a Cole County judge to block the Board of Accountancy from disciplining her over the matter. The lawsuit is pending.

Galloway's office has argued that the interviews were released to promote transparency and that allowing the board to discipline her would have a chilling effect on the work of state auditors.

"By attempting to control information available to the public, a board of gubernatorial appointees is interfering with the Auditor's central role in enforcing government transparency and accountability," according to a statement from the office released when Galloway filed the lawsuit.

The seven-member accounting board is made up of two appointees of former Democratic Gov. Jay Nixon and five appointees of his Republican successors. The president is a Nixon appointee, and the vice president is Nick Myers, the chairman of the Missouri Republican Party.

A Galloway spokesman on Wednesday declined to comment further on the complaint.