JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. – State Auditor Nicole Galloway said Monday that both the Senate and the House of Representatives earned ratings of “good” in audits performed by her office.
However, parts of her audits insisted that both chambers still had work to do when it came to its Sunshine Law records policies, personnel policies regarding administrative leave or whistleblower protections, and its newly-minted intern and sexual harassment policies and procedures.
Galloway also criticized the Senate’s practice of keeping the Senate Administrator’s Fund in a bank account outside of the state treasury in order to solicit lobbyist contributions to “pay for the meals provided to members and employees who work late during legislative sessions.”
“Contributions from lobbyists totaled $6,500 during the 2 years ended June 30, 2015,” the audit said. “The Senate does not have authority to maintain the bank account and administrative duties related to the account are not properly segregated.”
The auditor had more minor criticisms for the House when it came to their lobbying practices. In 2013, the Interim Committee on Education received $1,000 donations from lobbying firms for a bus rental as part of a statewide education tour.
Additionally, the audit found neither the House nor the Senate mandates periodic sexual harassment training in its relatively new sexual harassment policies. It also found no language in either workplace handbook detailing whistleblower protections for those who report untoward conduct.
In a statement, Speaker Todd Richardson, R-Poplar Bluff, thanked Galloway and her office for their efforts in the audit.
“[We] take pride in the fact the audit reflects an efficiently managed institution that makes wise use of taxpayer dollars,” he said. “We take the recommendations made in the audit very seriously and will review its findings with an eye on improving the way we do business here in the House. As Speaker I have made it a priority to restore the public’s trust in state government and my goal is to continue building that trust by improving the way we operate as an institution.”
Senate President Pro Tem Ron Richard, R-Joplin, also said that while his office would make or was in the process of meeting Galloway’s recommendations, he was pleased the Senate received a “good” rating.
“According to the office, a rating of ‘good’ means that our entity is well-managed,” he said. “The office has also recognized that most, if not all, of the recommendations have already been or will be implemented. We will continue to review the suggestions the office has given us. As always, we will continue to seek any recommendations that can help us operate more efficiently and be worthy of the trust Missourians have instilled on us.”
The audits of the state’s legislative branch are the first in a series of audits on Missouri’s governmental entities. Galloway is currently auditing the offices of the governor, lieutenant governor, secretary of state, treasurer and attorney general.