JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. – Just days after the primary election, Missouri’s candidates for State Auditor are already exchanging jabs.
In a release issued on Friday morning, Auditor Nicole Galloway’s campaign blasted Republican candidate Saundra McDowell on issues of fiscal accountability and whether she met Missouri’s residency requirement to run for that office.
“Saundra McDowell has demonstrated poor financial management of her personal and professional affairs since she first arrived in Missouri eight years ago,” said Galloway spokesman Eric Slusher. “Missouri voters would be wise to closely scrutinize a candidate who has shown she cannot keep her own financial house in order before putting her in charge of the state’s fiscal watchdog agency.”
The concerns raised by Galloway’s camp center around the issue of whether the 38-year-old McDowell meets the 10 years of residency in the Show-Me State as required by state law.
According to the Galloway campaign press release, “McDowell first arrived in Missouri in mid-2010 and proceeded to amass tens of thousands of dollars in civil judgments and wage garnishments associated with a failed law practice and poor personal financial management.”
One source of that debt is the more than $50,000 owed in back-rent and fees from a 2014 lease-to-own home that the McDowells took on, and were eventually evicted from for failing to pay rent.
Galloway’s campaign noted that McDowell had quit her job to run for office and that her wages had been garnished to pay those debts. While on the campaign trail, McDowell has continued to amass more than $20,000 in campaign debts, though she has reportedly raised about $17,000.
Later on Friday, McDowell responded to the claims from Galloway’s campaign, saying that she wanted to address the claims about her personal life before “letting the Democrats and Nicole Galloway run wild.”
“My husband and I did struggle to make ends meet earlier in our careers like so many Americans did under President Obama’s stagnating economy,” she said. “We have made every effort possible to pay off the debts that we owe, and we will continue to do so. My husband and I established intent for residency more than ten years ago, and any attempts to mischaracterize that as inadequate are ridiculous.
“The attacks on my private life perpetrated by my opponent are wildly inappropriate, and I’ve responded to these claims multiple times before. This race should be about the issues, not personal attacks, and I’m disappointed in my opponent for immediately making it about the latter.”
The Missouri GOP said in a statement to media members that they were backing the candidate, and that they had nothing to with reports that party officials were seeking to push McDowell out of the race due to concerns about her finances or residency requirement.
McDowell and Galloway will face off with Libertarian Sean O’Toole, Green Party candidate Don Fitz, and Constitution Party candidate Jacob Luetkemeyer in the November 6 general election.
Benjamin Peters is a reporter for the Missouri Times and Missouri Times Magazine, and also produces the #MoLeg Podcast. He joined the Missouri Times in 2016 after working as a sports editor and TV news producer in mid-Missouri. Benjamin is a graduate of Missouri State University in Springfield. To contact Benjamin, email firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter @BenjaminDPeters.