JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. – The Missouri State Auditor says he may file a lawsuit against St. Louis Circuit Attorney Kim Gardner.
Auditor Scott Fitzpatrick said she’s not handing over the information he needs to complete the audit to see if her office is wasting taxpayers’ money.
He said he’s been after certain documents for some time now and has given the Circuit Attorney’s Office deadlines. He said he’d run out of patience.
“If we don’t received that in the next week or so, then we will be going to court,” Fitzpatrick said. “We basically have to file a lawsuit to enforce the petition in court, where a judge would essentially order the Circuit Attorney’s Office to comply with the subpoena, and if they fail to do that, we would have to go back to the judge and say they didn’t. Then the judge would have to determine if they were going to be held in contempt of court or what was going to happen there. So the next step is just going to court to enforce the subpoena and force them to comply with the records request that we’ve given them we can complete the audit, and we’re going to do that.”
The auditor said Gardner’s Office has supplied some information, but some of what they sent has information that is blacked out.
“Well, the information that we’re seeing so far has been somewhat limited. We’ve requested bank statements, copies of checks,” Fitzpatrick said. “We’ve gotten some information, but a lot of it’s been redacted. It’s hard for us to say we’ve identified a bunch of concerns with the audit because we’ve been stonewalled for the most part on a lot of the important things that we need to see to complete the fieldwork on the audit. We’ve seen copies of credit card statements of airline tickets where all the information about who was traveling where they were going was redacted. Ultimately, this resulted in a subpoena. If we don’t get that access, we would have to enforce that subpoena in court.”
A spokesperson for the St. Louis Circuit Attorney’s Office issued this statement:
“The CAO has cooperated with all requests from the auditor. Today’s subpoena was a surprise. However, our office is committed to complying with all requests related to its audit of the office.”
“I don’t know what information they’re asking for that they say that they’re not getting on that,” said Alderwoman Laura Keys. “I don’t have a whole lot of comment on that, but what I do know is that this woman has worked very hard to be in the position that she is in. She has really advocated for our citizenry when it comes to not incarcerating a disproportional number of African Americans and brown people.”
Fitzpatrick said he didn’t start the process of auditing the Circuit Attorney’s Office. He said that started in 2018, when the St. Louis Board of Aldermen asked for an audit of all the city departments. Fitzpatrick said the Auditor’s Office has been trying to get information from Kim Gardner’s Office since 2021, an effort that started with his predecessors. He calls it a battle that’s bad for taxpayers.
“What I can say is that the process that I’ve seen in handling the audit report is certainly not efficient and not in the best interest of taxpayers,” Fitzpatrick said. “When we are being forced to deal with outside counsel that the Circuit Attorney’s Office is paying an hourly rate too and is racking up costs to the taxpayers of the City of St. Louis.”
He said he’s prepared to go to court by May 15 if he doesn’t get the information he’s requested.