“…By law, however, the State Auditor has the authority to audit state offices on her initiative and as often as she deems necessary…”
29.200. Audits to be conducted at discretion of auditor or request of governor — auditor’s duties. — 1. Except as provided under subsection 2 of this section, all audits conducted under this chapter may be made at the discretion of the auditor without advance notice to the organization being audited. An audit also shall be conducted upon the request of the governor as provided under section 26.060, and the expenses for any such audit conducted upon the request of the governor shall be paid as provided in section 26.090.
2. The auditor, on his or her initiative and as often as he or she deems necessary, to the extent deemed practicable and consistent with the overall responsibility as contained in this chapter, shall make or cause to be made audits of all or any part of the activities of the state agencies.
3. The auditor shall make, or cause to be made, audits of all or any parts of political subdivisions and other entities as authorized in this chapter or any other law of this state.
4. In selecting audit areas and in evaluating current audit activity, the auditor may, at his or her discretion, consider and utilize, in whole or in part, the relevant audit coverage and applicable reports of the audit staffs of the various state agencies, independent contractors, and federal agencies.
Ah, one of the ladder climber (r) audits just came out.
Audit confirms questionable use of state resources in office of former Attorney General Hawley
Review requested by Secretary of State finds state vehicle used improperly, campaign consultants coordinated with AGO staff, and personal text and email used for state business
State Auditor Nicole Galloway today released a report that looked into whether former Attorney General Josh Hawley used state resources for political purposes. The review determined that coordination between political campaign consultants and Attorney General staff gave an appearance of impropriety, and the Attorney General used a state vehicle for political and potentially personal purposes.
This portion of the closeout audit was initiated at the request of Secretary of State Jay Ashcroft, shortly after his office began an investigation into a complaint that Attorney General Hawley used public funds to support his U.S. Senate campaign. In the request, Secretary of State Ashcroft cited the State Auditor’s Office’s experience in such audits, as well as the authority of the Auditor to subpoena individuals and documents. Former employees of the Attorney General’s Office agreed to sworn testimony and did not require a subpoena. In the interest of transparency and in accordance with professional audit standards, the transcripts of the interviews are included in the report.
“At the request of the Republican Secretary of State, my office performed an in-depth audit, which confirmed media reports about the use of campaign consultants and a state vehicle by the office of the former Attorney General,” Auditor Galloway said. “Campaign-paid political consultants from out of state advised staff in the Attorney General’s Office. Additionally, then-Attorney General Hawley used a state vehicle and state employee for trips that were partly political or appeared personal.”
The audit found that consultants paid with Hawley state campaign funds interacted with and advised Attorney General’s Office staff. These contacts included in-person meetings during working hours at the Attorney General’s Office in Jefferson City where consultants gave advice on the administration of official duties.
Interaction between campaign-paid consultants and state employees include discussion of to-do lists created by the consultants recommending assignments to state staff. For example, prior to the roll-out of a human trafficking initiative by the Attorney General, consultants provided logistical guidance to state employees.
While these interactions between consultants and government officials give the appearance of using state resources for political purposes, no evidence exists of a violation of state law. Additionally, because the communications between campaign and AGO staff were conducted by private email and text messages, the purposes of these meetings could not always be determined.
The audit also found that Attorney General Hawley used a state vehicle and state employee as driver/security detail for some trips for which the business purpose was not documented. Some trips were partly political in nature and other trips appeared to be personal. For example, a state vehicle was used to travel to a Lincoln Day event in Platte County, which is a political event.
In some cases, the state employee took vacation time and received separate payment from federal campaign funds during the time of specific meetings. There is no record of any reimbursements to the state for the use of a state vehicle on these trips. The audit recommended that taxpayers be reimbursed for the amount of state resources used for political or personal purposes by former Attorney General Hawley. While there are no provisions in state law that allow for reimbursement for non-official use, such reimbursements by elected officials have taken place in the past.
Finally, the audit found that the Attorney General’s Office did not always follow communication and retention policies. 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 AGO policy. The audit recommends that the Attorney General’s Office ensure policies are followed regarding the use of personal email accounts and personal devices, and that business communications are retained in accordance with state-approved record schedules.
At a press conference announcing the release of the report, Auditor Galloway addressed criticism by now-Senator Hawley, who released a response to the audit several weeks before the report was finalized and available to the public.
“The unfair attacks by Senator Hawley in an attempt to deceive taxpayers about the nature of this audit are disturbing, but unfortunately, they are not surprising,” Auditor Galloway said. “My career staff carried out this audit professionally and in adherence to professional audit standards, sometimes in the face of abusive attacks. Now that all of the facts are available, it is clear that this report is based solely on evidence provided by current and former Attorney General’s Office staff and political consultants who worked with the office. There was no bias.”
The report released today focuses on the allegations of use of state resources for political purposes as requested by the Secretary of State. An additional report on the general operations of the Attorney General’s Office during Hawley’s two-year tenure in office is ongoing. That report is expected to be completed in the coming months.
The current Attorney General is Eric Schmitt (r).
The audit report [pdf] is 450 pages, with letters and interview transcripts. As always, the really interesting stuff is in the details.
In page 4 of the report [Attorney General’s Office = AGO, State Auditor’s Office = SAO]:
…In a December 31, 2019, letter (Appendix I, page 435) in response to seeing a draft copy of this report, the AGO formally objected to the inclusion of interview transcripts in this report, and stated the inclusion of these transcripts would be a disclosure of audit working papers, and therefore, a felony violation of Chapter 29, RSMo. The SAO disagrees with this conclusion. Objections to the inclusion of interview transcripts and audit communications citing Chapter 29, RSMo, are without merit. The confidentiality provisions of Chapter 29 are intended to protect the SAO’s working papers from public disclosure. The interpretation that those confidentiality provisions are intended to keep the SAO from disclosing information obtained during the course of the audit is at odds with Chapter 29, RSMo, and Yellow Book requirements, which both require a report of information obtained during an audit be made public. In addition, the statement that the inclusion of working papers as appendices to a public report is unprecedented is not accurate. Including information obtained during an audit as appendices is very common and not unique to this administration. Appendices have been part of audit reports issued by the SAO for decades…
From a letter [page 411 in the audit, page 413 in the pdf], dated February 21, 2019, from Michael Moorefield, Chief of Staff and Counsel in the State Auditor’s Office, addressed to Christopher R. Wray, Chief of Staff in the Attorney General’s Office:
…I am writing this letter to outline the conflict of interest that prevents the Attorney General’s Office from representing the State Auditor’s Office in any case related to an audit. Because of this conflict, the State Auditor’s Office will not tender any case to your office where the authority of the State Auditor to conduct audits under the performance audit standards is being challenged…”
…This conflict was further demonstrated in your response to information requested by our audit team in a letter dated February 15, 2019. In that letter, to another statewide official, you again challenged the authority of the State Auditor to obtain information related to the audit. The Attorney General’s Office explicitly stated that it was “unaware of any constitutional or statutory that allows the Auditor to request the information sought.” The “information sought” included very basic records such as calendar events, conference room meeting bookings with attendees, timesheets, leave records, expense accounts, dates of employment, financial disclosure forms, contracts with consultants and personnel policies and procedures. I have attached a copy of this letter.
These documents are requested regularly in audits by this office. In the letter, you suggested that the only authority this office would have to request this information is “as part of an end-of-term audit.” By law, however, the State Auditor has the authority to audit state offices on her initiative and as often as she deems necessary…
The letter concludes:
…Given the irreconcilable conflict created by your (1): taking a position against the authority of the State Auditor’s Office; (2) attempting to give legal advice and direct the audit of the Attorney General’s Office; and (3) communicating your position against the authority of this office to a third-party, the Attorney general’s Office cannot serve as attorney for this office in any case related to its core audit function…
Well, those conversations must have been a might bit testy.
Then there’s this discussion – in a transcript – of whether the transcript would be made public in the audit [starting at page 276 in the audit, page 278 in the pdf]:
1 STATE OF MISSOURI
2 OFFICE OF THE STATE AUDITOR
3 Audit of Missouri Attorney General’s Office
4 Deposition of Daniel Hartman
6 October 3rd, 2019
For the State of Missouri Auditor’s Office:
MR. JOEL E. ANDERSON
STATE OF MISSOURI OFFICE OF AUDITOR NICOLE GALLOWAY
For Mr. Hartman:
MR. BRENT E. HADEN
HADEN & HADEN
[starting at page 276 in the audit, page 278 in the pdf]
11 MR. ANDERSON: Once the audit is
12 published, if it’s part of it, that part is.
13 MR. HADEN: I understand that, because of
14 that — the theory on that would be that it’s a
15 public document anyway. Now, what determines
16 whether or not you attach — because here is my
17 issue — and you and I have talked about it. We
18 don’t have to do this on a transcript. I’m not –
19 by the way, I’m not necessarily opposed to doing
20 this on a transcript, but he’s here voluntarily, and
21 you’ve got a boss that’s running for governor, and
22 you’ve got a boss that’s going to have — I’m not
23 saying she will do this or she won’t do this, and
24 I — frankly, America is America, but she would have
25 some incentive to take potshots at a sitting senator
1 from the opposite party.
2 MR. ANDERSON: You’ve said that to me
3 before –
4 MR. HADEN: I have said it, and I’ll say
5 it on the record here today.
6 MR. ANDERSON: You already have said it on
7 the record.
8 MR. HADEN: Okay. So that being the case,
9 what’s –
10 MR. ANDERSON: I’m kind of done with it at
11 this point.
12 MR. HADEN: Done with what?
13 MR. ANDERSON: Well, the same question
14 over and over again.
15 MR. HADEN: Okay. So — all right. So
16 what is my assurance that this is not going to be a
17 politicized event? I’m just a lawyer doing my job.
18 What is my assurance from the auditor’s
19 office that this is going to be about doing their
20 job, rather than about pursuing some political
22 MR. ANDERSON: I don’t know what assurance
23 you’re looking for.
24 MR. HADEN: Well, I’m at least looking for
25 assurance that you will do your utmost to ensure
1 that doesn’t happen.
2 MR. ANDERSON: What is the “that” that
3 you’re talking about?
4 MR. HADEN: What I just said. It’s not
5 going to be some politicized event –
6 MR. ANDERSON: What does “politicized”
7 mean? Will it be public? Well, an audit is public.
8 MR. HADEN: Okay.
9 MR. ANDERSON: I mean, where do you go
10 from there?
11 MR. HADEN: Okay. All right. Well, we
12 can proceed with the questions, I guess, and see
13 where we end up today.
14 MR. ANDERSON: If you have an objection to
15 make or a concern with a question, that’s why you’re
17 MR. HADEN: Obviously.
18 MR. ANDERSON: Uh-huh.
19 MR. HADEN: I’m just trying to figure out
20 what exactly the auditor’s office is going to do
21 with the information they’re gathering.
22 MR. ANDERSON: They’re going to do a
23 report, and it’s going to be published, just like
24 every audit they’ve ever done.
25 MR. HADEN: Okay. We’ll see.
1 MR. ANDERSON: Good to start?
2 MR. HADEN: Yes.
3 MR. ANDERSON: Pam.
5 BY MS. ALLISON: [….]
And here we are.
“…I’m not – by the way, I’m not necessarily opposed to doing this on a transcript, but he’s here voluntarily, and you’ve got a boss that’s running for governor, and you’ve got a boss that’s going to have — I’m not saying she will do this or she won’t do this, and I — frankly, America is America, but she would have some incentive to take potshots at a sitting senator from the opposite party…”