Landmark assistant editor
The verbal artillery barrages
by the state auditor candidates continue to get
Sandra Thomas, Platte County auditor
and the Republican nominee for state auditor,
held a press conference on Monday morning in Jefferson
City at the capitol rotunda, during which Thomas
blasted Democratic nominee Susan Montee for failing
to audit the books of former Buchanan County public
administrator Bonnie Sue Lawson.
Thomas vocally criticized Montee
about the same issue in August.
Lawson resigned her post in August
after St. Joseph police detectives raided her
office in St. Joseph to seize records related
to trustee accounts, private financial accounts
the public administrator oversees for county residents
who are disabled or declared mentally incompetent
without a willing or able guardian.
The law enforcement investigation
continues against Lawson.
Montee is the Buchanan County
At issue, according to Susan Montee,
is whether or not it is appropriate for a publicly-elected
county auditor to audit private monies. Montee
has said repeatedly and firmly that no,
it is not appropriate for the county auditor to
audit private accounts.
Montee appears to gain reinforcement
for her views about the matter from none other
than conservative Republican and former U.S. Attorney
General John Ashcroft. As Missouris attorney
general back in 1979, Ashcroft made a written
finding that discouraged county auditors from
auditing private funds overseen by county public
The Republican state auditor candidate,
We know for certain that
at least one individual requested that Susan Montee
audit the public administrator, and she didnt
do it, Thomas told The Landmark during a
telephone interview on Monday evening.
Thomas claims that the unnamed
whistleblower, who was allegedly a former employee
of Lawsons, asked Montee to audit Lawsons
files back in December 2005. Law enforcement detectives
raided Lawsons offices in August 2006. Lawson
resigned her post the next day.
Montee remains convinced that
she is following the statutes correctly by not
auditing private funds.
I never thought it was ambiguous.
No one else who has been asked about this at the
beginning has thought so either, Montee
told The Landmark on Tuesday afternoon.
In Buchanan County, and many other
first-class counties, the circuit court system
is responsible for providing oversight on the
private funds managed by the county public administrator.
Montee noted that the Buchanan
County judges and the president of the Missouri
County Auditors Association (Vic Hurlbert, a Republican,
and the Clay County auditor) all determined, in
their own opinions, that Montee was correct in
not auditing private funds overseen by the county
Its private money, and theres
nothing for the county auditor to do with it.
There isnt anything going on in Buchanan
County. Its quiet and business as usual,
and theyre (Thomas and her campaign aides)
are trying to resurrect it one more time,
Thomas highlighted the irony that
Platte Countys public administrator in the
early 1990s, John Bless, was convicted of taking
private monies while in office and actually served
time for the offense. Thomas became the Platte
County auditor shortly after public administrator
Bless was caught. Because of Bless misappropriation
of funds, Thomas said she changed some things
in Platte County.
We put procedures in place
in Platte County to prevent that (officeholder
theft) from ever happening again, Thomas
told The Landmark.