It’s all over every newspaper in the state that Susan Montee’s audit of MOHELA exposes flagrant waste. At least eleven different papers have a headline something like this one from the Post-Dispatch: MOHELA audit uncovers excesses.
But you have to go to Fired Up! to get the only accurate take on the importance of the story–an aspect that all those newspapers ignored:
…[I]t became clear that an audit of MOHELA was needed because Governor Matt Blunt forced out several MOHELA officials for their opposition to his proposed sale of the agency’s assets. After firing one official, Blunt subsequently paid him an exorbitant amount in hush money in an attempt to buy his silence. Such acts are the things for which audits were made.
You’d think reporters might focus on the most salient facets of the audit, in particular the way the state’s chief executive used millions in MOHELA funds to cover up the politically motivated firings at the agency.
The audit of MOHELA, with all the excesses it identified, is undoubtedly a good thing. But its tales of profligate spending on things like retreats and vacations should not be allowed to cover up the most malicious misuses of the agency’s assets. The fact is that our state’s highest ranking elected official –a man in whom, unlike MOHELA’s execs, the people have placed their explicit trust– fired MOHELA officials for their political opposition and then raided MOHELA’s treasury to pay them off and quiet them down. That this is not the overarching focus of every story written about the audit is a grave disservice to the taxpayers of Missouri.