JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. – Joan Gummels, a special advisor and representative from the state Auditor’s office announced to the Joint Committee on Legislative Research that the state will be performing an audit of the former St. Louis Rams in the next calendar year. She came to the Joint Committee on Legislative Research meeting on Tuesday to ask if they had any specific details they wanted the audit to entail.
Gummels did not give a specific timeline and could not confirm when the audit will conclude. The committee was also never able to establish all of what it would include. “We agreed to do the audit. It will not start, just so you know, in this calendar year. Certainly, we’ll have to revise the audit plan to work it in, so we’ll keep you updated on what the timing will be,” she said.
The team will be audited after the Missouri Supreme Court reversed a decision which determined that they owed the state in over $350,000. The team did not pay a special entertainment license tax, which the Missouri Supreme Court says they should have paid. The Rams told the Department of Revenue that the tax was already included in the full ticket price so that the team would not have to pay the tax.
On July 27, 2017, Chair of the Joint Committee on Legislative Research Sen. Bob Dixon sent a letter to the state auditor’s office formally requesting that the team be audited. The office says that they agreed to investigate the team, but found that the request was too broad.
Chair of the House Budget Committee, Rep. Scott Fitzpatrick says that he made a complaint in 2015, but Galloway’s office has not investigated the team until now. He asked why has it taken the Auditor so long to want to investigate the team.
“Did you guys change your mind? If you weren’t interested in an audit when I presented it to her at that time … I’m a little concerned that the outcome of the audit may be a little toned down based on the initial response that I received when I brought this up over two years ago,” Fitzpatrick questioned, “I think the decision to change their minds was probably politically motivated.”
Gummels says that the decision to wait was not taken lightly as every request given from the Joint Committee is given “additional consideration.” She also says that now might be a better time to investigate the team because of the amount of information that has already come out against the team in the two years the office waited. She also added, “We do want to fulfill your request and look at any concerns you have… We want to make sure that we cover any concern that the committee has.”
The Auditor’s office said that the biggest piece of information were about payments after the team had left for Los Angeles. Fitzpatrick alleges that team had unpaid invoices when he first made the proposal in 2015 and they avoided paying them by draining their accounts when they left. “I don’t have the timeline on all of that. You [Fitzpatrick] are a little more familiar with it, from your budget hearing…,” Gummels said to which Fitzpatrick replied, “Yeah, I am.”
Gummels represented the office of the Auditor at the meeting to ask if there were specific requests that the Committee would like to include in the audit. The representative also mentioned that she would be available to hear the requests from members of the committee after the hearing.
“We would encourage that if there were specific concerns … please contact me. What we don’t want to do is get through the audit, spend the resources and find that we perhaps didn’t address certain [issues] that the committee was condoned about,” she said.
Michael Layer is a reporter for the Missouri Times and the Missouri Times Magazine. He joined the Missouri Times in August 2017 after graduating from Goucher College the previous May. To contact Michael, email email@example.com or follow him on Twitter @_MichaelLayer