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Nicole Galloway misused tax dollars for her gubernatorial campaign, complaint alleges

Liberty Alliance USA filed a complaint with Secretary of State Jay Ashcroft alleging that State Auditor Nicole Galloway misused tax dollars for her gubernatorial campaign.

The complaint, sent Tuesday, alleged that Galloway used staff and taxpayer resources to publish an op-ed critical of Gov. Mike Parson’s stance on abortion in the St. Louis Post Dispatch shortly before announcing her gubernatorial campaign against him. Emails included in the complaint say members of Galloway’s office sent the piece from a state email address, making the move a use of taxpayer resources. 

Chris Vas, executive director of the conservative advocacy group, said he believed Galloway’s office violated Missouri constitutional law. 

“The op-ed that was placed using state resources was about abortion, and it attacks her political opponent Gov. Parson,” Vas told The Missouri Times. “The state auditor’s duties are laid out in the Constitution, and abortion issues are not one of them. It turns out that a couple of weeks later, she announced her run for governor using the very same talking points she was laying the groundwork for through the op-eds.”

“We are familiar with the tactics of this dark money group, which has previously filed a frivolous lawsuit and lodged baseless complaints against this office. They have been unsuccessful in their attacks,” Galloway’s press secretary Steph Deidrick told The Missouri Times. “The operations of Auditor Galloway’s office are open, accessible to the public and in compliance with the law. Anyone is welcome to view the hundreds of thousands of pages of public business that are publicly available online and free of charge.”

Vas said Liberty Alliance had not filed complaints against Galloway’s office prior to the one in question.

Vas said the Post Dispatch denounced the op-ed in a later article, pointing to the disconnect between her duties in office and the subject matter as an “effort to position herself on a key political issue” before announcing her run.  

A similar complaint against U.S. Sen. Josh Hawley alleging the political use of state funds during his time as attorney general was leveled by Galloway in an audit earlier this year. The audit found communications between Hawley’s office and consultants gave “the appearance of political activity by state employees while using state resources, but no evidence exists that any laws were violated.” 

“After a year of attacking Josh Hawley, she turns around and does the same thing,” Vas said. “Hawley was cleared of all wrongdoing, but based on the facts in this investigation, I don’t know that she will be.”

Vas said the Secretary of State’s Office was recently granted the authority to issue subpoenas for documents in election law cases, and the group expects more cooperation from Ashcroft’s staff in obtaining information. He said the Sunshine process had lasted almost a year and that the complaint filed with the office would lead to more open results. 

Galloway, the Democratic nominee for Missouri governor, will face off against incumbent Parson on the ballot on Nov. 3.