Auditor Galloway is making a lot of the office

“Missouri Auditor Nicole Galloway is on her way to becoming one of the best holders of the office in state history.” – Columbia Daily Tribune

I’ve seen my share of estimable state auditors, including several who went on to higher office. They were talented people who obviously regarded the office partly as a stepping stone to further political achievement. Several had the talent to make more of the office than they did, but they settled for checking the boxes on the list of what a “good auditor” must do.

Galloway is showing herself as a different sort.

She made clear when entering the office she considered it an important and potentially rewarding end in itself. This is standard rhetoric for new state auditors – who would say otherwise – but Galloway is showing she means it.

Telling evidence was seen in a recent column she wrote for these opinion pages describing legislation she promoting with bi-partisan sponsorship of senators and representatives. The goal is stiffer ethics legislation. She is giving more than the usual lip-service.

She writes: “Right now, there is too much red tape that prevents law enforcement and the State Auditor from easily working together to expose fraud and abuse. We need stiffer penalties, better ways to require the return of taxpayer money, and fewer barriers to cooperation between the State Auditor’s Office and local law enforcement.

“If the legislature in Jefferson City takes up and passes this legislation, Missouri law will soon have stronger penalties for government officials who abuse their power.”

Here, Galloway gets at the essential loophole for state auditors. They always mean well and perform routine audits but claim accurately they have no power to enforce good behavior. They can do good work by exposing bad behavior but unless law enforcement promptly and automatically follows up, reform remains ephemeral.

Galloway is turning the key to making a real change in this equation, finding lawmakers to sponsor and push for the sort of legislative change she now promotes and following up with her own consistent promotion from the auditor’s bully pulpit.

Optimist that I am, I believe if she or any other auditor would do what she is now doing, the political system would not be able to resist indefinitely. Galloway is telling the public what it no doubt agrees with. She has the imprimatur to make the message stick if she has effective allies in the General Assembly and keeps promoting her message.

Nagging is essential. Lawmakers are prone to talk the good game but fail to translate it into law. Auditor Galloway occupies the leverage to keep their feet in the fire. So have her predecessors, but she shows signs of really doing it.

This is the extraordinary role state auditors can fill if they will, but seldom do. Auditor Nicole Galloway shows an inclination to exploit the office in unprecedented ways. This is a big deal, folks. We should egg her on.

HJW III

From the Columbia Daily Tribune –