A candidate debate for state auditor for the Nov. 6 election brought forth a canine quip picked up by newspapers across the state. Republican Saundra McDowell aimed the insult at incumbent Democrat Nicole Galloway after a series of heated exchanges.
McDowell accused Galloway of ignoring public corruption in the state and then remarked: “If you’re not a watchdog, then you’re just a dog,’’ she said. Then she added, “I’ll be a bulldog.”
McDowell’s dart has been dogging her ever since the Sept. 14 forum. The Kansas City Star observed: “No woofing kidding, a Missouri Republican called her female opponent a dog.”
The debate before the Missouri Press Association in St. Louis grew heated quickly when Galloway noted McDowell has had her wages garnished, has repeatedly been sued over unpaid debts, and may not meet the state’s residency requirements for running for the office.
“My opponent has shown no ability to manage her personal or professional finances,” said Galloway. “She has not been forthcoming and truthful. She’s been sued seven times.”
McDowell countered that lawsuits have been filed over alleged Sunshine Law violations by the auditor. She said Galloway has run the auditor’s office in an amateur fashion and that it has lacked transparency in its operations.
“The first thing I would do is audit the auditor’s office,” said McDowell, regarding what she would do if elected to the state position. “Her office is top-heavy with administrators and what we need is more auditors.”
McDowell said that as she travels around the state, county officials tell her that representatives of Galloway’s office cannot answer questions about what they are doing. She said Galloway’s office is behind on audits that should have been completed months ago.
“That is not true,” said Galloway. “We have a statutory responsibility to report out audits on time. Those accusations just are not true.”
Galloway emphasized the existence of four independent reviews of her office that have all come back positive. She said McDowell was in no position and had no credibility in trying to evaluate the auditor’s office.
Galloway, who has been Missouri auditor for the last three years, said she’d hesitate to hire McDowell in her office even in an entry-level position given the questions about her personal finances, her resume and her residency.
Early in the debate, candidates were asked their views on Amendment 1. The Clean Missouri measure would address such issues as campaign contribution limits, lobbyist gifts for legislators and the problem of district boundaries in the state that are gerrymandered to favor one party or the other at election time.
McDowell said she opposes Clean Missouri because she said it would “politicize” the auditor’s office by giving it a hand in the redistricting process. She said that would result in “spaghetti string districts” in which people would not know whom they were supposed to be voting for at election time.
Galloway said she supports Clean Missouri and all measures that would reduce the influence of unaccountable “dark money” contributions in elections that corrupt the process
“What Missourians don’t need is an auditor so financially compromised that she may take dark money… to look the other way in audits,” Galloway said.
Candidates for the state auditor’s position were asked to detail what their qualifications were for the office and whether it was necessary to have a certified public accountant credential.
McDowell is not a CPA, but she said she is the most qualified person running for auditor, pointing to her leadership experience in the Air Force. She also emphasized that she is a lawyer with strong pro-life and Second Amendment values.
McDowell was born in Oklahoma. She graduated from Regent University Law School in Virginia
“I’m a soldier with a legal mind,” McDowell said. “I’m ready to fight for the people of Missouri.”
Galloway said she will stand on her record as auditor. She is a certified public accountant with a master’s degree in business administration from the University of Missouri-Columbia. She was born in Fenton and graduated from Ursuline Academy in Oakland before going on for a B.S. at the University of Missouri at Rolla.
Other candidates in the race for Missouri Auditor include Libertarian Sean O’Toole, the Constitution Party’s Jacob Luetkemeyer and Green Party candidate Don Fitz.