The Missouri State Auditor and Clay County officials continue to disagree on how to proceed with the Clay County audit.
State Auditor Nicole Galloway issued a statement today which outlined what she said she described as a County staff member's failure to appear to a subpoena. In an official statement received from the Clay County Commission, County officials said they did not refuse to appear. In a statement released Friday, they said they continue to communicate with Galloway and her office and provided "significant advance notice" that Assistant County Administrator Nicole Brown would be unable to appear this morning.
"The County has in no way refused appearing and, as you will note in (Friday's) statement, has been in touch with the Auditor to schedule a time to meet while also turning over requested materials to support her work," they said.
Galloway said she plans to take further action.
"Because the subpoena was lawfully executed, the State Auditor's Office will now take Clay County to court to demand compliance," she said. "This is the first time the State Auditor's Office has been required to take this step to get answers and information. The county's continued unwillingness to cooperate with the citizen-mandated audit requires the State Auditor's Office to evaluate available audit resources and legal options."
On Friday, Galloway's office released a statement saying they issued an additional subpoena to Clay County officials.
This subpoena, Galloway’s department said in a prepared statement, accompanies a previous subpoena issued on Nov. 8.
“This week, auditors were onsite in Clay County conducting audit fieldwork and making standard requests for information routinely and readily provided in audits of county governments,” the statement said. “Several requests are related to concerns raised by Clay County petitioners and whistleblowers who have contacted the State Auditor’s Office.”
Galloway’s office said the County indicated certain responsive records would not be provided to auditors, which prompted the subpoena for those materials.
In a prepared statement from the Clay County Commission, they have been in touch with Galloway about her proposed meeting with Brown. The statement said they continue to work with Galloway’s to coordinate times for this to occur. “(Brown) has been subpoenaed to appear on both Nov. 25 and Dec. 11,” the statement said. “In regard to the Nov. 25 subpoena, the County provided the Auditor significant advance notice that the Assistant Administrator would not be able to appear on that date due to a previous commitment to be out of the office with her family during the Thanksgiving holiday. That said, the Assistant County Administrator has also assured the Auditor that she would make herself available to meet at another time convenient for both.”
The statement goes on to state County officials have confirmed with the Galloway that nearly all of the documents subject to the subpoena issued on Nov. 8 have been produced to its staff.
“The exceptions include records involving attorney-client privilege and confidential employee medical records, as well as those not under the control of the Assistant County Administrator but rather under the control of other independently elected officials,” the statement said.
According to an affidavit from Brown, supplied by the County, to the best of Brown’s knowledge, the County supplied all records requested in Galloway’s Nov. 8 subpoena with the exception of the items outlined below.
“On advice of counsel, the County will not voluntarily produce any closed Clay County Commission (the ‘Commission’) meeting minutes as requested in the Subpoena,” the affidavit said. “The County does not have an engagement letter with Fisher & Phillips LLP. But that law firm was retained to assist the County in collective bargaining issues with the Fraternal Order of Police. The County does not have annual audit reports for the year ended Dec. 31, 2018. The County’s outside auditor, RSM, has refused to issue those audit reports claiming (incorrectly in my view and in the view of our legal counsel) that it cannot do so because (of) the state audit.”
The Commission’s statement ended by stating, County staff also works “diligently” to locate and produce the other records requested, “as the County has every intention to continue working in good faith to produce these materials in as timely a fashion as possible.”
“Further, the county has been in contact with the State Auditor’s office throughout the last week to communicate and coordinate on these requests,” the statement said. “The State Auditor’s office was open to these discussions and is aware of the county’s progress in putting together responses to her requests.”