Missouri State Auditor Nicole Galloway was in Kansas City Tuesday to announce her support for legislation that would increase penalties for government officials who steal public money.
Sen. Bob Dixon, a Springfield Republican, has pre-filed legislation that would make official misconduct in the first degree a felony carrying a possible four-year sentence. Currently, it's a misdemeanor.
It would also give local prosecutors more time to recover damages in cases of fraud or corruption.
“When we present these audit results to citizens, the first question I get is, how do we hold these public officials accountable for using our taxpayer dollars in a way they shouldn’t, or maybe even lining their pockets with those taxpayer dollars?” Galloway says.
The proposed legislation would also give local law enforcement agencies the authority to request an audit. For example, a county sheriff could contact Galloway’s office if he suspected misconduct in a neighboring police department.
Jackson County Prosecutor Jean Peters Baker called it “another tool” in her toolbox.
“It also gives us a new arm of reaching back into collecting that restitution,” she says. “In order to make victims whole, which sometimes is the taxpayer, we need more tools to get that done.”
Elle Moxley is a reporter for KCUR. You can reach her on Twitter @ellemoxley.