Missouri State Auditor Nicole Galloway has directed her staff to begin a review of potentially improper or inappropriate payouts made with public dollars.
The review comes after recent reporting found the former director of the Department of Conservation was still receiving salary payments more than eight months after his employment ended, potentially as part of a separation or settlement agreement to resolve claims that may have been levied against the department.
"I am concerned about potential inappropriate payments agreed to by the Missouri Conservation Commission, and will immediately begin a review to determine whether other state agencies are negotiating back-channel settlements with taxpayer dollars," Auditor Galloway said.
Sen. Kiki Curls has also raised this issue as part of her work on the Senate Appropriations Committee.
“It’s important that State departments and agencies are transparent with the public regarding any settlement payouts arising from claims against their department or the State. If settlements are being awarded for any reason, taxpayers and the legislature have a right to be made aware of it," Sen. Kiki Curls said.
"I thank Senator Curls for bringing this important issue to my attention," Auditor Galloway said.
The investigation will occur in addition to an ongoing audit of the state's Legal Expense Fund, which is the fund used to make payments stemming from lawsuits against the state. Additional work will also take place as part of a regularly scheduled audit of the Department of Conservation.
Individuals with information to share or concerns related to payments or other settlements may contact the State Auditor's Whistleblower Hotline by calling 800-347-8597, by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org, or by using the new online submission form at auditor.mo.gov/hotline. Callers may choose to remain anonymous.