Cass County Collector Pam Shipley has been cleared of nepotism claims, according to a statement from the county prosecuting attorney’s office.
Shipley, the county’s collector since 2003, had become the target of charges that she promoted a staff member — her first cousin Denise Goddard — in violation of Missouri law.
The complaint filed by County Auditor Ron Johnson acknowledged that Goddard had been an employee in the collector’s office before Shipley’s election. State law permits continued employment of a relative in those circumstances.
Goddard, however, received higher pay and began performing the duties of Shipley’s chief deputy who retired in January, according to Johnson.
“The addition of duties and pay is a de facto promotion regardless of title,” Johnson wrote in his complaint.
Johnson asked Cass County Prosecutor Teresa Hensley’s office to review the case.
“After review of the facts and the law in Missouri, the Cass County Prosecutor’s Office will not file a Petition in Quo Warranto to seek ouster as none is warranted,” said the statement by Hensley’s spokeswoman Georgia Sanders.
Sanders’ statement said that Shipley had asked for a formal opinion from the state on her cousin’s employment in January 2003, which is when she took office. She was told that it was permitted because Goddard had been hired by a previous county collector, the statement said.
“The Cass County Auditor suggests that the Collector’s cousin has been promoted to a new title and role in the office. The Collector’s cousin has been employed for over 15 years as a Deputy Collector. There are currently five full-time staff members all having the same title of Deputy Collector in the Cass County Collector’s Office. The next closest staff member in seniority has been employed four years. Any change in the Collector’s cousin’s salary or duties has been incidental to her original employment and are justified due to her decade and a half of service in that office,” the statement said.
In August, Hensley sought to oust County Clerk Janet Burlingame from office on charges she had employed both her husband and son from 2003 until April 2010.