SPRINGFIELD, Mo.–Greene County Sheriff Jim Arnott is speaking out on why he’s suing Missouri Auditor Nicole Galloway for the release of whistle-blower’s complaints made against the county.
We’ve been covering this story for weeks.
Whistle-blowers have complained that county employees were asked to advocate for a half-cent sales tax and that the county misused public funds for campaign purposes.
The sheriff was very adamant that he has nothing to hide and is committed to transparency throughout this entire process.
Seated next to his attorney, Pat Keck, Sheriff Jim Arnott explains why he’s filed a six-page lawsuit against state auditor, Nicole Galloway requesting the whistle-blower complaints.
“I have 350 employees, I have the largest sheriff’s office in Missouri so if there is incidents that I am not aware of, it’s something that I want to investigate so if I have employees that are doing something improper, I need to address that,” says Arnott.
In the lawsuit, it reads that “On December 15th, Sheriff Arnott through counsel sent auditor Galloway a request for government documents pursuant to Chapter 610. This letter specifically limited the request to exclude the identity of any reporting party.”
But, when asked if receiving the whistleblower complaints could indirectly reveal their identities, Sheriff Arnott shifted the conversation to Galloway acting outside of her job description by investigating their claims.
“If she receives credible information, she must refer it to the Missouri attorney general, the prosecutor’s office, or Missouri Ethics Commission or the secretary of state and to my knowledge, no information has passed on to those agencies,” says Arnott.
The lawsuit states that “The auditor has continually and intentionally failed and refused to provide complaints with the exempt information redacted or to describe the exempt material. The auditor has taken the blanket approach that to provide any redacted exempt information would disclose the identity of the reporter.”
Galloway sent this statement in response, “This lawsuit appears to be an effort to discover the identities of whistle-blowers in Greene County, which we have a duty to protect. We have nothing further to add at this time.”
“The state auditor is putting out false information on what we’re trying to do because we have never asked for the info on the whistle-blowers,” says attorney, Pat Keck.
As for how wanting only the whistleblower’s complaints and not their names aligns with the Sunshine Law, Keck explains.
“The Sunshine Law would require her to delete the information regarding the identity and produce everything else,” says Keck.
Ultimately, Sheriff Arnott and his attorney are accusing Galloway of having an agenda.
“The only thing she has to gain by that is to paint this county in a bad light,” says Keck.
“It’s an election year,” says Arnott.
Once the state auditor is served with the lawsuit, she has 30 days to respond where it could then go before a Cole County judge for a motion hearing.