Government & Politics

Missouri auditor subpoenas Greitens administration over data on income tax refunds

Missouri Auditor Nicole Galloway issues a subpoena

The state auditor issued a subpoena April 19, 2017, demanding Gov. Eric Greitens' administration turn over documents pertaining to tax refunds.
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The state auditor issued a subpoena April 19, 2017, demanding Gov. Eric Greitens' administration turn over documents pertaining to tax refunds.

Missouri Auditor Nicole Galloway issued a subpoena Wednesday ordering Gov. Eric Greitens’ administration to turn over information on its management of income tax refunds.

The subpoena was issued six weeks after Galloway’s office first requested the information as part of an audit to ensure the Missouri Department of Revenue is complying with a state law that requires income tax refunds be paid out within 45 days of filing. If refunds haven’t been paid within 45 days, the state must pay them with interest.

“There is a lack of transparency that has fallen over state government at the direction of the governor,” Galloway said Wednesday. “This isn’t the first wall that we’ve run into, and so we’re finding a trend here.”

This action marks the first time Galloway has had to issue a subpoena to any government agency or department to obtain information.

A spokesman for Greitens, a Republican, did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Galloway, a Democrat, said her office has held meetings with the governor’s legal counsel, chief of staff and deputy chief of staff to work toward getting the requested information. But for six weeks, the governor’s office and the Department of Revenue have refused.

On Monday, Galloway said the administration agreed to turn over information about tax refund payouts under former Gov. Jay Nixon, but not information about the current fiscal year.

“It is frustrating,” she said.

The subpoena orders the Department of Revenue to deliver the requested documents at 9 a.m. April 28. If the governor’s administration refuses or does not show up, Galloway will file a petition in Cole County Circuit Court asking a judge to compel them to provide the documents.

“I’m not asking for personally identifiable information,” Galloway said. “Just the total amount of refunds processed, and whether they were processed in a timely fashion. We want to know if the department is complying with state law.”

The governor’s commitment to government transparency has been repeatedly criticized.

Greitens has refused to disclose details of how much he raised from corporations and lobbyist to bankroll his inaugural festivities, and his campaign staff set up a nonprofit to help promote his agenda. The nonprofit isn’t governed by Missouri campaign finance disclosure law.

During the campaign, Greitens benefited from $6 million in “dark money” spending — campaign contributions routed through nonprofits to hide where the money came from. He repeatedly refused to release his tax returns, and after winning in November, he required those serving on his transition team to sign a gag order.

Austin Chambers, the governor’s senior adviser, told The Star last month that the only people complaining about transparency in the Greitens administration are “reporters and Democratic operatives.”

Jason Hancock: 573-634-3565, @J_Hancock

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