Government & Politics

Galloway plays up ‘watchdog‘ role in video announcing run for Missouri governor

Editor’s note: This story has been updated to include comments from Gov. Mike Parson’s campaign manager.

State Auditor Nicole Galloway made her run for Missouri governor official by releasing a video Monday that touted her experience as a watchdog of taxpayer dollars.

As the only Democrat to have won a statewide race since 2012, Galloway, 37, was long rumored to be planning to take on incumbent Gov. Mike Parson in 2020. The former Boone County treasurer was appointed as state auditor in 2015 and was elected to a full term last year, winning 50.4 percent of the vote.

Galloway tipped her hand last week by filing paperwork with the Missouri Ethics Commission prior to her formal announcement. Parson, who was promoted from lieutenant governor following the resignation of then-Gov. Eric Greitens last summer, is expected to make a public announcement about entering the race next month.

In the video, Galloway said as state auditor she has uncovered $350 million in government waste and fraud, which led to 40 criminal charges against Republicans and Democrats.

She also hit on a familiar theme of those seeking office in Missouri: corruption in the capital city.

“Every dollar that politicians waste or steal ought to go to your town, your roads, your schools,” she said, adding that dollars flow to the “wealthy and connected.”

Over a darkened shot of men exchanging envelopes, she alleged that the governor received money from corporations and lobbyists and then did “their bidding.” Her campaign pointed to Parson being the sole statewide elected official to take lobbyist gifts while lieutenant governor and an allegation by Parson’s former chief of staff that as a state senator, Parson agreed to propose legislation on behalf of lobbyists who had donated to his campaign without knowing what the bills did. Parson’s spokesman at the time called the chief of staff a “disgruntled former employee.”

Steele Shippy, Parson’s campaign manager, said Parson has “a proven track record of reforming government and working hard to turn Missouri around.”

“Liberal Nicole Galloway echoes the talking points of the national liberals she’s backed in the past and has been critical of historic state and federal tax cuts that have provided great savings to hardworking Missouri families and helped businesses hire more Missourians,” Shippy said in an emailed statement. “Governor Parson and Missouri Republican leadership have not only paved the way for prosperity but also improved the lives of Missourians. Missouri cannot afford Liberal Nicole’s agenda which would turn back the clock on these successes.”

In a press release sent Monday, Galloway pointed to an unanswered request of Parson made last year to require businesses that are awarded state contracts to disclose “dark money” contributions. She also publicly warned him in June against a bill that would allow companies to be shortlisted for state contracts. Parson ultimately signed the bill.

Galloway called the laws getting passed in Jefferson City — pinpointing Missouri’s new abortion law — “outrageous.” Set to go into effect Aug. 28, the law will ban abortions after eight weeks of pregnancy and does not make exceptions for victims of rape or incest.

Those close to Galloway said the new abortion law piqued her interest in entering the race.

Galloway also criticized lawmakers for, as she said, subverting “the will of the voters” by attempting to reverse ethics reforms passed by Missourians last year. The ballot initiative known as Clean Missouri limited lobbyist gifts, lowered the cap on campaign contributions, changed the method of how legislative districts are drawn, and opened the legislature’s communications to the Sunshine law.

Legislation, which mostly focused on the redistricting, passed the Missouri House, but failed to make it through the Missouri Senate. However, lawmakers have vowed to return to the issue next year.

“It’s a broken system — the old way of doing politics,” Galloway said in the video. “As auditor, I fought it. As governor, I’ll end it.”

So far, Galloway is behind Parson in raising funds for her run. Galloway’s candidate committee has raised $228,000 so far this year, with about $132,000 cash on hand as of July 1. A political action committee called Keep Government Accountable, which supports Galloway’s candidacy and is not bound by Missouri’s campaign contributions limits, reported $20,000 cash on hand as of July 1.

Parson’s candidate committee reported raising roughly $315,000 in 2019, with $1.2 million cash on hand as of July 1. Uniting Missouri, a PAC formed to support Parson’s 2020 gubernatorial campaign, reported raising around $986,000 in 2019, with $2.8 million cash on hand.

Related stories from Kansas City Star

Crystal Thomas covers Missouri politics for The Kansas City Star. An Illinois native and a graduate of the Missouri School of Journalism, she has experience covering state and local government.