CAPE GIRARDEAU, Mo. (KFVS) - “I really thought that we as a state were better than this.”
Drew Juden spent 19 months leading the organizations in place to keep Missouri safe as the director of the Office of Public Safety.
Juden now finds himself at the center of an upcoming state audit he calls a targeted attack on his reputation.
And his former boss, Eric Greitens, has his back.
“Drew’s one of the best people I know,” the former Governor said. “He’s an incredible leader. He’s a great man. And he did an extraordinary job as our director of Public Safety.”
Both Juden and Greitens spoke to Heartland News exclusively about the contents of two draft audits Juden provided.
Last November, Governor Mike Parson and his DPS Director Sandy Karsten, announced the audit, saying it had been nearly five years since the DPS Director’s Office went under a financial microscope.
But the two drafts only address the time Juden ran the department and only question his actions.
“I wasn’t going to sit here and be targeted by a bunch of political insiders to tear down my reputation” Juden said. “I just want people to know my side of the story. They can make up their own minds about who they want to believe.”
According to a letter included with the drafts from Auditor Nicole Galloway, “The scope of our audit included, but was not necessarily limited to the year ended December 31, 2017, and the period from January 1 through August 31, 2018.”
That’s Juden’s time in office. And the 11-page report does not mention any other DPS director.
“I’m thinking this is crazy that I’m having to look through this and look at things that are of no substance that are strictly targeting nothing but the time that I was in office,” Juden said.
The first section of both draft audits focuses on “Equipment Contracts and Payments for Services.”
They lay out what happened to nearly $2 million in grant money state lawmakers moved from the Missouri State Highway Patrol budget to the Public Safety budget.
According to both drafts, Juden’s office “abused” the process to make sure the grant, designated for local equipment, went to the Missouri Police Chiefs Charitable Foundation, a group he was “affiliated with.”
Both drafts indicate the Foundation received the grant money “five to six months before the equipment was received by local law enforcement,” costing the state “approximately $16,000 in interest.”
"I distanced myself from that whole process,” Juden said of the MPCCF grant.
Instead, Juden said MPCCF applied for the grant and that application was handled by his staff, led by Director of Administration Bruce Clemonds.
"I thought the accusations or the inference of what the audit report reflected was inappropriate and inaccurate as to what had actually transpired,” Clemonds said by phone from his home in Tulsa, Oklahoma.
Clemonds, who retired once from DPS before returning to serve under Juden, said DPS followed all the rules.
He said after the Foundation was awarded the grant, he reached out to the Office of Administration to find out if the money could be given to them before the needed equipment was ready to buy.
“The division of accounting explained to us how we could go ahead and give the money to the locals and they could continue with the project and get, ultimately, that technology--the live scans, the rapid ID’s, the maintenance--all taken care of for the sheriffs and the police departments throughout the state," Clemonds said.
He said the auditors spent 30 minutes interviewing him by phone after Juden received the first draft audit.
The only change he saw between the drafts, following his interview, is the inclusion of one sentence that adds the Missouri Sheriff’s Association to a list of groups involved in the process.
“Like they had already, they had already made their assumptions and their decisions in regard to this audit,” Clemonds said of the phone interview. “And it may have just been a courtesy call to me.”
The second part of both draft audits turn to “Administrative Practices,” specifically Juden’s use of annual leave and his state vehicle.
That's where his former boss comes in.
Eric Greitens now serves as a lieutenant commander for the U.S. Navy Reserves.
Greitens agreed to talk to us in St. Louis - only about his former DPS director, the job he did and the hours he kept.
“And I consider him not just a great professional and a great man, but also a friend,” Greitens said of Juden. “And I tell you this, you can ask any sheriff, any chief of police across the state of Missouri. They knew that when things got hard, Drew Juden was there for them. And another thing, you know law enforcement families, when they had a hard time in the state of Missouri, they knew that Drew had walked in their shoes. And not as some desk officer, as a guy who had been on the front lines.”
According to the two draft audits Juden provided, his state vehicle usage was, “44 percent higher than DPS directors” before or since.
It’s a point Juden does not dispute.
“Not at all. But I was there to serve the citizens. I was there to make this state a safer and better place, not to sit behind a desk in Jefferson City.”
During our interview, we told Greitens that Juden recalled the governor expecting him to be ready 24/7.
“Absolutely, I did,” Greitens responded. “And not only did I expect for him to be ready 24/7, he was ready 24/7.”
Both drafts also detail how Juden, “did not claim any annual leave during his time as director.”
The first draft references “multiple personal vacations over this time.”
The second draft adjusts that line to "the appearance of taking multiple personal vacations over this time."
According to draft one, Juden did not claim leave for 20 working days, therefore the $6,864 he received for 115 hours of unused leave “appears to be an overpayment.”
The second draft lowers that number of days to 15, and auditors say they're "unable to determine the amount overpaid."
“I took some time off," Juden said, "but to say I took a personal vacation where I could actually walk away from what I was doing, I never did that.”
Both draft audits detail Juden, a salaried state employee, attending the Daytona 500 in 2017 and 2018, something Juden confirmed.
“The race is on the weekend. I took a couple of days off. But at the same time, I had worked weeks at a time without a day off.”
And here’s why the first audit counted 20 working days. It referenced Juden taking a personal trip to Colorado. Juden said he did request that time off in 2017.
“Well, I had a Colorado trip scheduled, but there was a little thing called the Stockley verdict.”
In September 2017, former St. Louis police officer Jason Stockley was acquitted in the shooting death of a black suspect, sparking days of angry protests.
“And I spent many weeks in St. Louis working 18-hour days so it was a little hard to be in Colorado at that time,” Juden explained.
Do you recall Director Juden taking a vacation that month, September 2017, we asked Governor Greitens.
“No, I don’t,” he responded with a laugh. “I know that if Drew took a vacation, it was him standing closer than you are to me when he was in the emergency management center. I mean, this guy was working with me every single day. Every single day through that emergency. And he was working with police officers and firefighters all over the region to make sure people stayed protected. And stayed safe.”
As far as conclusions, both draft audits call for more due diligence and documentation in the grant process, along with ensuring accurate time sheets and the proper logging of vehicle use.
We asked Juden then why it matters what the final audit finds.
“You know, I spent four decades of my life serving the citizens of this state and worked very hard," Juden said. "I have three sons, that all three are serving the citizens of this state, either in law enforcement, firefighting or a paramedic. They all wear my name on their chest. It says Juden. And I want that name to stand for something. And I firmly believe that it does. And for them to attack me like this just shows what happens in Jefferson City.”
We reached out to the governor, auditor, and current director of public safety for this story.
No response yet from Governor Parson's office.
A DPS spokesperson said they cannot comment on a pending audit.
As for Auditor Nicole Galloway, her spokeswoman said state law prevents them from talking about an ongoing audit.
She then asked that we not run our story until they can legally respond.
We will continue our coverage once the final audit is released and look forward to the auditor’s response.
We’d also like to ask several questions, including how much the audit cost and why it focused only on Drew Juden’s tenure.