JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. — Nicole Galloway began her first full term as state auditor on Monday, taking the opportunity to announce a new unit that will be focused solely on investigating fraud and abuse within the government.
During the swearing-in ceremony, Galloway announced the creation of the Public Corruption and Fraud Division within the Missouri State Auditor’s Office.
Though this will be Galloway’s second term, having served as auditor since 2015, it will be her first full term in statewide office. She was appointed to the position in 2015 by Gov. Jay Nixon following the death of then-Auditor Tom Schweich.
Galloway is the sole Democrat and sole female in an elected statewide position.
Galloway noted that since taking office, her audits have resulted in 38 criminal charges against public officials. Most recently, an audit of the City of Winona found $42,000 missing and resulted in felony charges against the former city clerk.
In Viburnum, a former city clerk stole more than $100,000. In Callaway County, more than $300,000 was stolen by the former collector. In Putnam County, an out-of-state management company ran a $90 million billing scheme through the county-owned hospital.
“Our job as public officials is to serve the public. I have a message for those officials who don’t: if you commit fraud, if you steal from taxpayers, if you are dishonest with the citizens of Missouri, my office will find you, and I will hold you accountable,” Galloway said after being sworn in. “I’m so proud to renew my oath of office today and to expand on the great work we have accomplished. We are reaffirming our fight against public corruption.”
Missouri Supreme Court Judge Mary Russell administered the oath of office to Galloway in a public ceremony held in the State Capitol rotunda that was standing room only.
As part of her address that focused on wrong-doings by elected officials, Galloway announced the Public Corruption and Fraud Division. The division will be created with existing staff and resources, Galloway told the media after the ceremony.
“This division will have dedicated auditors and attorneys, law enforcement professionals, forensic auditing specialists, and certified fraud examiners,” Galloway said. “We will use technology and data analytics to target and uncover theft and fraud. My team will have the tools, resources, and expertise to expose wrongdoing.”
By focusing additional resources on fighting public corruption through the Public Corruption and Fraud Division, the Auditor’s office can more effectively address whistleblower complaints regarding abuse in local government, Galloway said. She also noted that changes should allow for more flexibility to respond directly to significant concerns identified in counties that do not have a county auditor.
“I’m so proud to serve Missourians as their independent watchdog. To expose unfairness, greed, and corruption affecting their communities and their families,” said Galloway. “The people of Missouri should know there is someone looking out for them – and I’m just getting started.”
Galloway’s complete remarks can be found here.
Alisha Shurr was a reporter for The Missouri Times and The Missouri Times Magazine. She joined The Missouri Times in January 2018 after working as a copy editor for her hometown newspaper in Southern Oregon. Alisha is a graduate of Kansas State University.