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Hearing for Galloway, state board dispute scheduled for next year

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. — A commission tasked with evaluating disputes involving state agencies is set to consider a complaint regarding Auditor Nicole Galloway’s investigation of U.S. Senator Josh Hawley’s tenure as attorney general next summer. 

The State Board of Accountancy accused Galloway of disclosing confidential documents and conducting her investigation into Hawley’s office in a non-objective way during an audit filed last year. 

The Administrative Hearing Commission (AHC) set a June 21, 2022 hearing date to receive testimony from both sides of the issue. 

“Galloway knew, or should have known, the [Attorney General’s Office] objected to the disclosure of confidential documents because the AGO objected both orally in meetings and in written correspondence with her audit team, and Galloway cited the AGO’s objection in the AGO Report,” the board’s complaint, filed with the AHC last week, said. “Galloway, while acting as a CPA, willfully disregarded and circumvented the mandates to protect confidential documents from public disclosure by attaching them as appendices to the final AGO Report.”

Galloway’s office did not immediately respond to a request for comment. 

The State Auditor’s Office publishes its audits for the public to view, including the report covering Hawley’s Attorney General’s Office.

Hawley filed a complaint last year after the audit, which led to an investigation by the State Board of Accountancy. 

Galloway sued the board in September, arguing it misinterpreted state law that could hinder how future auditors publish reports or work with law enforcement. The lone Democratic statewide elected official argued that giving an auditee a “client” with the ability to pick what information goes into a public report could hinder investigations. She said certified public accountants would have to choose between reporting on their findings or potentially having their license disciplined under that condition.

“The Board’s intended action is not only a severe threat to the transparency of state and local governments, it undermines the constitutional and statutory law that require reliable and independent government audits and a public report,” Galloway’s lawsuit said. “Allowing this disciplinary action to continue risks the license of every certified public accountant of the State Auditor’s Office and has a chilling effect on every audit and public report issued by the office.”

According to Galloway’s lawsuit, the board offered a settlement agreement which absolved Galloway of any wrongdoing from Hawley’s complaints but contended auditees are “clients” and information from her office’s audits should not be released with their consent. 

Hawley and Galloway have publicly sparred over the past two years. Galloway’s 2020 audit regarding his time as attorney general alleged several issues with payroll, expense reporting, and vehicle usage logs. Hawley, in turn, criticized Galloway’s conduct and the hiring of a former campaign manager for Claire McCaskill, his Democratic opponent in 2018, as part of her 2020 gubernatorial bid. 

Galloway is not running for re-election to the position next year.