Missouri State Auditor Nicole Galloway has been busy promoting her whistle blower hotline in response to Gov. Eric Greitens signing Senate Bill 43 into law.
She stopped by the Daily Guide Wednesday afternoon to talk about it, the auditing process, and high profile audits that have been conducted in our area in recent years.
Galloway said that the law removed protection for public employees reporting wrongdoing in the workplace, but her hotline remains anonymous and protected by law.
The hotline is meant for whistleblowers to report "waste, fraud and mismanagement of taxpayer dollars," according to Galloway's office.
Galloway has been reaching out and trying to inform the public about the hotline and discussed how it has already helped her office take a look at problems recently, as well as raise awareness about her proposed fix for the law. G
Galloway is proposing a "legislative fix" called the State Auditor's Public Employee Whistleblower Act that would restore the protections and add additional ones to "ensure public employees can report inappropriate activity in the workplace without fear of retaliation or intimidation."
"My Public Employee Whistleblower Act positions Missouri as a leader for those who would speak out against government wrongdoing," Auditor Galloway said. "This legislation reverses state government's trend toward secrecy and fights against a chilling effect that could undermine the state's ability to uncover wasteful, improper or illegal uses of taxpayer dollars."
Senator Jill Schupp and House Minority Leader Gail McCann Beatty plan to file the bill for the upcoming legislative session, according to Galloway.
"Missourians work really hard for their money and we don't want to see government waste it," Galloway said.
Galloway promises protection to whistleblowers who report problems and told the Daily Guide that her office has received calls of all types on the hotline including Sunshine Law violations, suspicions that a clerk has stolen money, accusations that someone has adjusted utility payments, as well as complaints about the Internal Revenue Service's failure to give refunds in a timely manner.
Local residents are familiar with some of the types of reports Galloway discussed, as Pulaski County has seen two major audits in recent years. A voluntary audit of Waynesville School District's money handling procedures and an audit of the city of Dixon are examples of the kinds of audits her office performs.
Galloway explained the process for both types of audits, saying that in the case of the municipality, like the audit of Dixon, voters have to bring a petition to initiate that kind of audit, while in the case of the school district it takes a whistleblower or report of some kind of fraud.
"It's important to remember that if a petition is successful, the taxing district pays for the audit," Galloway said.
In the case of Waynesville School District's audit, Galloway's office was working with the district already, doing an audit of cyber security, when the allegations about fraud in the lunch accounts came out. She said her office already has the authority to conduct that type of audit and no petition is necessary.
The State Auditor's Office has conducted more audits under Galloway's leadership than in many previous years. When asked why she thought that might be, Galloway said she felt it was important to make government accountable to the people paying taxes.
"These are public entities, the taxes that people are paying are going to these government bodies," Galloway said.
One of Galloway's initiatives has been to penalize public entities for not reporting their basic financial information. The requirement to report financial information has been state law since the 60's, according to Galloway, but her office worked bipartisanly in the Legislature to make them provide it or pay a penalty.
"We have seen dismal compliance from local governments. Not turning in that financial information makes you wonder what is being hidden from public view," Galloway said.
A portion of the interview with Galloway concerning the whistleblower hotline can be viewed at https://www.facebook.com/WaynesvilleDailyGuide/videos/1453280651460264/