State auditor finds lawmakers not transparent enough, too generous with paid time off

Missouri lawmakers overall do a “good” job managing taxpayer funds, but are too generous with time off for staff and too willing to accept lobbyist money for meals, according to a pair of audits released Monday by Missouri Auditor Nicole Galloway’s office.

The reports indicated both Missouri’s Senate and House of Representatives need to improve personnel policies, record keeping, compensation practices and Sunshine Law compliance.

Problems identified in the audits include spending on paid leave that auditors considered more generous than usual. The House acknowledged the auditor’s recommendation. The Senate defended the payments, replying in its audit that staff usually work on Lincoln’s Birthday, Presidents’ Day and Truman Day.

Galloway also took issue with the Senate’s control of a bank account “for the purpose of soliciting contributions from lobbyists to pay for meals provided to members and employees who work late during legislative sessions,” totaling $6,500 over the past two fiscal years. The Senate in response said that the account’s activities were transparent and that donations were reported to the Missouri Ethics Commission.

The audits also said that certain legislative committees could be more transparent. Galloway’s office found that meeting records in some cases were not created, were missing or were insufficient, and the office requested that both chambers formalize their policies about what is and is not considered an open record.

Read more: Springfield News-Leader, St. Louis Post-Dispatch

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