MO auditor highlights Dunklin Co. in need for official misconduc - KFVS12 News & Weather Cape Girardeau, Carbondale, Poplar Bluff

MO auditor highlights Dunklin Co. in need for official misconduct anti-corruption law

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The Missouri State Auditor is pushing for an official misconduct anti-corruption law after a review of public administrators across the state.

Nicole Galloway says the report looked at 28 public administrators.

Concerns ranged from not fulfilling annual reporting requirements to a lack of documentation or receipts for purchases made on behalf of wards in their care.

Galloway highlighted findings from Dunklin County.

According to Galloway, the Dunklin County Public Administrator admitted she spent money entrusted to her on pet supplies, including dog and cat food, and on purchases made while on a trip to Florida.

Audit results were provided to law enforcement, which led to the former administrator agreeing to resign from her position and to repay $800 to the individuals. 

Galloway explains public administrators are assigned by courts to manage the finances of individuals who are unable to care for themselves or their property and have no one else to assist.

"Fraud and abuse of taxpayer resources is always disturbing but even more so when it occurs in the office of the public administrator, because they are responsible for managing the finances of some of the most vulnerable members of our community," Auditor Galloway said. "Older Missourians and individuals with disabilities are often seen as easy targets, and it's disgusting when a public official exploits those who are depending on them for protection."

Galloway says there should be a consequence for their actions.

"When public servants can steal from the public, including the most vulnerable among us, and the only penalty is that they have to repay what they stole, they face a net loss of zero. That's not an appropriate punishment and it does nothing to deter anyone else from committing the same crime," Auditor Galloway said.

Last week Auditor Galloway announced a bipartisan effort to increase penalties for government officials who steal public dollars.

Senate Bill 176  increases the penalties for public officials convicted of misconduct and raises the likelihood money will be repaid.

It also grants additional authority to Missouri prosecuting attorneys and law enforcement agencies when inappropriate or illegal activity is suspected at the local level.

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