CLAY COUNTY, Mo. — More than a year after Jason Withington and Sherry Duffett helped collect thousands of signatures to audit Clay County’s Commission, they are still waiting for a state audit to be completed.
“This was something we worked very hard for. Put our own time, our own effort, our own money into this and got those signatures so that we could find out where they money is being spent,” Duffett said.
Concern over the county’s financial records and allegations of retaliation triggered the petition asking for a state audit. The petition was presented to the state auditor with more than 9,000 valid signatures.
“The way they’re spending money is the reason why we started the audit,” Withington said. “Why not open the books and let the auditor see everything then. Prove us wrong! Shut me up!”
According to Missouri State Auditor Nicole Galloway, her office has been trying to get records for the state audit. In a letter she released Monday, she accused the county of obstruction.
“My office has never been sued by a government entity whose own citizens requested an audit be conducted. But that is exactly what happened in Clay County. It represents an unprecedented level of obstruction,” the letter said.
“I know you are frustrated. I am too. Based on what we have experienced to date, this may not be the last roadblock we will face in Clay County,” it continued.
Clay County fired back in its own statement Monday, writing Galloway should “conduct her constitutional duties” rather than taking over “the management decisions for Clay County.”
“Once again Auditor Nicole Galloway is attempting an audit by press release, rather than simply getting to work on the audit request by the citizens of Clay County,” the statement said.
“Clay County has offered to redact confidential employee information and attorney-client privileged communications. To date, the State Auditor has rejected this offer. The offer still stands. When Galloway is ready to roll up her sleeves and get back to work, Clay County is here,” the statement continued.
Since the petition was submitted, Galloway said county officials have resisted her audit with roadblocks and delays, which prompted her office to issue a subpoena requesting records from commission meetings, computers and smartphones.
The Clay County Commission sued, claiming Galloway overstepped her constitutional authority.
“We need to keep awareness out there and let them know we are still in it. We’re still in here, we’re still backing it and we still want it to happen,” Duffett said.