Court records show the GOP candidate for Missouri auditor had a Kansas address in 2013, once again raising questions about whether she meets the residency requirement to run for office in the first place.
Saundra McDowell won a surprise victory in the Republican primary on Aug. 2, earning the chance to take on incumbent Democratic Auditor Nicole Galloway. Almost immediately after her win, however, McDowell began facing questions about whether she met a requirement in the Missouri Constitution that says the auditor must have been a resident of the state for 10 years at the time of the election.
McDowell was born in Oklahoma and didn’t move to Missouri until 2010. She has said she meets the residency requirement because her husband is a St. Louis native and the couple made the decision to reside in Missouri before November 6, 2008.
Because she intended to be a Missouri resident, she has argued, then she is eligible to serve as auditor.
But according to court records, which were first discovered by the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, McDowell had a Mission, Kan., address in 2013 when she was sued by Nebraska Furniture Inc. for failing to pay $698, plus 18 percent interest, as part of a contract she signed the previous year.
McDowell, who has never publicly mentioned living outside Missouri after 2010, did not respond to a request for comment by The Star.
McDowell met her husband while they were attending Regent University Law School in Virginia. They were married in Missouri on Feb. 14, 2009, yet both list Virginia Beach, Va., as their residence on their marriage license.
“This raises troubling questions about her truthfulness and credibility, in addition to any new legal concerns,” said Eric Slusher, Galloway’s campaign manager. “Her excuses for her significant financial problems and residency issues should raise red flags for voters.”
Legal scholars differ on whether McDowell meets the constitution’s residency requirement. Others question whether the requirement is unconstitutional, pointing to a 1978 decision by the 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals which found the requirement for state auditor violates the U.S. Constitution’s equal protection clause.
Another candidate for auditor on the fall ballot would have to challenge McDowell’s residency within five days of the election being officially certified on Aug. 28. Any changes to the ballot must be finalized six weeks before the election, which is Sept. 25.
McDowell served eight years in the Air Force before working as an assistant attorney general under former Democratic Attorney General Chris Koster. More recently, she worked in the securities division for Republican Secretary of State Jay Ashcroft.
Galloway was elected Boone County treasurer in 2011 and served until 2014, when she was appointed auditor by former Gov. Jay Nixon after the death of Tom Schweich. She is a certified public accountant who previously worked as a corporate auditor at Shelter Insurance in Columbia.
Also running for state auditor are Libertarian Party candidate Sean O’Toole, Green Party candidate Don Fitz and Constitution Party candidate Jacob Luetkemeyer.