JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (KFVS) - The Missouri State Auditor’s report which focuses on Drew Juden’s tenure as Director of the Department of Public Safety (DPS) was made public Wednesday morning, July 31.
The audit covered the time period of January 2017 through August 2018. This is the period Drew Juden was Director of DPS.
According to Auditor Nicole Galloway, the audit showed there were concerns about the process DPS used when awarding and managing a contract for the coordination of fingerprint technology at local law enforcement agencies, the former DPS director’s annual leave and state vehicle use.
She tweeted about its release, saying it “raises concerns with equipment contracts, travel and leave practices under former Public Safety Department Director”.
Juden supplied me with an advance copy of the final report, which is nearly identical to the second draft sent to Juden on July 1, 2019.
It finds Juden “abused” a state grant process to benefit the Missouri Police Chiefs Charitable Foundation.
Galloway stated the foundation was awarded a $58,000 contract for fingerprint technology when previously the services were provided by the Missouri State Highway Patrol at no cost to the state.
Reaction continues to pour in, locally and from Jefferson City, to a newly released audit focused on Drew Juden’s tenure as Director of Missouri’s Department of Public Safety.
“Well, I’m just ready to put it behind me," he said.
With final audit in hand, Drew Juden says he has no doubt the eight-month effort happened for one reason.
“It’s been a political witch hunt. And I’m just tired of it. But I hate to see the taxpayers’ money wasted on this audit. You know, I don’t know what it cost. But I’m sure it wasn’t cheap to do," he added.
I spoke with Bruce Clemonds, who served as Juden’s Director of Administration.
Both Clemonds and Juden maintain the grant process was handled correctly.
Clemonds says he spoke directly with the Office of Administration about the awarding of the grant to the Missouri Police Chiefs Charitable Foundation.
The audit also finds Juden did not take any personal leave during his time in office and did not log his use of a state vehicle.
The only difference from the second draft of the audit and the final report comes in a 2-sentence response from Juden, who told state auditors he kept a personal journal that “accurately reflects the amount of hours he worked”.
Page 13 of the audit states “The former Director also stated he maintained a daily journal that contained information on his work schedule, but declined to provide that to us.”
On the use of a state vehicle, the audit finds Juden averaged 2,956 miles a month which is approximately 44 percent higher than DPS directors both prior to and after his administration.
Click here to read the report.
Juden says he stands by his time served as Director and is glad to have this chapter of his state service.
This final report, like the two drafts before it, describes how Juden "abused" the state grant process to benefit the Missouri Police Chiefs Charitable Foundation.
It also questions his use of a state vehicle, and finds he took no annual leave time as Director “despite the appearance of taking multiple personal vacations over this time.”
It calls for DPS to ensure grant money is handled properly and all purchases are documented.
A letter from DPS Director Sandy Karsten included with the audit shows for each recommendation, she agrees with the recommendations and will take the steps needed to implement them.
But, I learned something interesting when I spoke with Tim Lowery, who became Chairman of the Missouri Police Chiefs Charitable Foundation in January of this year.
He tells me, since he’s been in office, the foundation no longer handles that equipment grant. Lowery says it went back to the Missouri State Highway Patrol.
Mike O’Connell, spokesman for current DPS Director Sandy Karsten confirmed that change late Wednesday afternoon.
O’Connell says during the 2019 Budget Year, Director Karsten made the equipment purchases directly for the local departments.
He says as of the start of the 2020 Budget Year which began July 1, 2019, that money has been restored to the MSHP budget.
Lowery also says, he “absolutely does not believe” Juden abused the grant process under his tenure.
The final report does include something Juden told auditors. When questioned about not taking any annual leave time, Juden told them he kept a daily journal that contained information on his work schedule but declined to turn it over. I asked him why not.
“You know, if I turn over four type-written pages to them and they don’t bother publishing any of that, why in the world would they publish anything out of the journal?”
Do you regret taking that job to begin with? I asked him.
"No I don’t because the Governor I worked for was an outstanding man and was really sincere about what he was doing”, he responded.
I received a flurry of responses from Jefferson City regarding the audit late Wednesday afternoon.
Let me break them down for you.
According to Steph Deidrick, spokeswoman for State Auditor Galloway, this audit cost somewhere between $30,000 and $40,000, although the final number’s not known yet.
Deidrick says it was paid for by Governor Parson's Office Budget.
When I asked why it only targeted Juden's tenure, she told me that's a question for Governor Parson.
I asked the same question to DPS spokesman Mike O’Connell. He called the audit a “prudent exercise” and said it’s common for an action like this following a change in leadership.
O’Connell emailed me a statement that reads:
Gov. Parson's Spokeswoman Kelli Jones says Parson feels the audit is a good use of state money, even though he fired Juden nearly a year ago.
Jones says the governor believes any questionable misuse of taxpayer dollars needs to be investigated.
She did not respond to Juden’s characterization of the audit as a political witch hunt.