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Ashcroft: ‘No probable cause’ to find Galloway misused office

  

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. — Secretary of State Jay Ashcroft found “no probable cause” Auditor Nicole Galloway violated state law and misused her office during the 2020 campaigns

Ashcroft was investigating a complaint from the conservative Liberty Alliance group alleging Galloway used staff and taxpayer resources to publish an op-ed in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch critical of Gov. Mike Parson’s stance on abortion. The complaint alleged the subject matter of the piece indicated it was placed in support of Galloway’s gubernatorial bid. 

“After my office reviewed the documents [provided by the State Auditor’s Office] to determine if public funds were used to support or oppose your candidacy for governor, I have determined there is no probable cause to believe you violated Section 115.646, RSMo, as alleged by Liberty,” Ashcroft said in a letter provided to The Missouri Times. “Therefore, I am closing this complaint.” 

In a statement, Galloway said: “As I said from the start, no laws were broken. I’m pleased Secretary Ashcroft came to the same conclusion.” 

Despite clearing Galloway, Ashcroft continued the back-and-forth between the two politicians in his letter. The probe resulted in some public bickering between the two offices just ahead of Election Day. 

As part of his investigation, Ashcroft sent a Sunshine Law request for emails and documents pertaining to the op-ed. The request turned into a subpoena after the Secretary of State’s Office said the Auditor’s Office failed to comply. 

Galloway, in turn, filed a petition in Cole County Circuit Court to block the subpoena. The petition called the complaint “fatally flawed” from a “dark money organization.” 

In his letter, Ashcroft said the Auditor’s Office provided 32 pages of documentation on Oct. 30. “Had my office received these 32 pages, many of which are redundant, my office could have closed this matter sooner,” he said. 

Chris Vas, executive director of Liberty Alliance, said the group will “launch a full investigation into Galloway and her office to determine exactly how many taxpayer dollars were wasted by frivolously filing lawsuits against Secretary Ashcroft’s lawful investigation.” 

“Galloway has cultivated a culture of secrecy in her office and is no friend of transparency and good governance,” Vas said. “We will continue our mission to hold her and other elected officials accountable to Missouri taxpayers.” 

Galloway ultimately lost her campaign against incumbent Gov. Mike Parson earlier this month. Ashcroft, a Republican, overwhelmingly won re-election as Missouri’s secretary of state.

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