Home Accountant Missouri auditor candidates vie for independence from partisan influence • Missouri Independent

Missouri auditor candidates vie for independence from partisan influence • Missouri Independent

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The Republican trying to secure the only statewide post currently held by Democrats pledged on Friday to show no partisan patronage, while his opponents said only they could provide the independence needed in the office.

State Treasurer Scott Fitzpatrick, former State Rep. Alan Green, and accountant John Hartwig Jr. met in their first and possibly only campaign debate at Missouri’s annual convention. Press Association.

Fitzpatrick, a Republican and former chairman of the Missouri House Budget Committee, said he would not back down when audit findings show problems at agencies run by his fellow Republicans.

“Anyone who has covered state government during my tenure knows I have no problem upsetting the apple basket,” Fitzpatrick told the assembled editors and editors.

Green, a Democrat who represented Florissant for seven years in the Missouri House, said Fitzpatrick’s election would make him wonder “who’s keeping the chicken coop?” This is an office that should be independent and whoever holds this position monitors our dollars and ensures that every dollar is spent appropriately.

Hartwig, a libertarian who has not held public office, said his pledge to serve only one term if elected would free him from any attempt to soften the audit’s findings.

“I can impartially audit anyone, whether it’s a Republican or a Democrat,” Hartwig said.

The auditor is the only constitutional officer on this year’s poll. The election is not held in the same year, other officers are selected to reduce the influence of partisanship on the outcome. In the past 50 years, five of the eight auditors have won their first election running on the ticket of the major party opposing the party that held the governorship.

Nicole Galloway, the current listener and Democrat, decided do not seek a new mandate in June 2021 after losing the 2020 gubernatorial election to Republican Governor Mike Parson.

The constitutional qualifications to be a state auditor allow anyone at least 30 years of age, a U.S. citizen for 15 years, and a resident of Missouri for 10 years to hold that position. But because of the accounting functions of the office, many of those who show up are certified public accountants.

Only Hartwig has this qualification this year. Green, who also served as a state agency director, heading the Office of Equal Opportunity under Gov. Jay Nixon, and worked in the Department of Human Services, said his experience understanding budget issues of the state makes him qualified to lead the office.

Fitzpatrick said the CPA qualification is not necessary because the office has many accountants for day-to-day audit work.

“What the auditor’s office needs is a leader,” Fitzpatrick said. “I know my way around state government.”

Interviewed by a panel of reporters, Fitzpatrick, Green and Hartwig reached agreement in a number of areas.

They all said they would keep the scoring system for national and local agency audits adopted by the late Tom Schweich after becoming an auditor in 2010. Those ratings — Excellent, Good, Fair, or Poor — are a “good system, a fair system,” Green said, his opponents echoing those words.

They also said they would support legislation giving the auditor greater powers to enforce the state’s Sunshine law.

“I would like that to happen because very often the information is not released to the public because it is not shared,” Green said.

None of the three said they had any specific changes to make to the office, saying they wanted to wait until they were an auditor and see how it works now.

Fitzpatrick noted that the office is licensed to have 160 employees and currently has about 115 to 120. If vacancies are needed, he will push to hire, he said. Otherwise, he will ask lawmakers to reduce the number of authorized employees.

The candidates disagreed on some policy issues, however, including whether to support Amendment 3, which would legalize the recreational use and sale of marijuana in Missouri.

Green said he supported the measure and Hartwig declined to respond because the auditor’s job is not to make policy. Fitzpatrick said he opposes it, not because he’s against legal marijuana, but because it clutters the Missouri Constitution.

“Marijuana issues belong in the statutes,” Fitzpatrick said. “And I don’t like a government-mandated monopoly,” referring to provisions that automatically grant licenses to grow and sell recreational marijuana to companies serving the medical market.

Candidates were also asked about their future ambitions. Of the 10 auditors elected or appointed because of a vacancy since 1970, five have run for governor.

Green and Fitzpatrick did not answer the question directly, saying they would wait and make a decision when an opportunity presents itself. Hartwig made it clear that he only wanted one term.

“It’s the best way to solve the problem of chronic politicians,” he said.