A state audit released on Missouri’s lieutenant governor said he may be doing things that he's not legally allowed to do. The audit looked into everything Peter Kinder's office has done over the past three years. Kinder received a "good" rating, which is the second highest rating a state audit can get. It also raises some serious questions to the legalities of some things Kinder is doing.
The problem all surrounds a website the lieutenant governor is working on. The purpose of the website is for people to report incidents where public funds are misused. The problem is auditors don't believe he has the legal authority to do that, and it could lead to information being breached.
State Auditor Tom Schweich had to recuse himself from doing the investigation because he received a large donation from Kinder during his last campaign. Deputy Auditor Harry Otto said he did find several areas that were concerning to him. He said what especially caught his eye was a website Kinder is setting up. The legislature gave Kinder $38,000 to get it up and running, but auditors are puzzled if he can actually have the website.
“We're worried about whether or not he has the legal authority to have that kind of website. He has the appropriation authority now, but the legal authority is still a question,” Otto said.
Kinder doesn't agree with that. In the audit, he stated he is the state's official senior advocate. Kinder said he has “ ... the power to ' ... conduct a suitable investigation into any actions complained of ... ' within the scope of authority of the senior citizen advocate and relevant to Missouri senior community.”
Auditors are worried that when the website is functional, it may not actually be safe. They said information could be given out because it's not protected by the law.
Otto wonders: If Kinder's office does start an investigation, who would do it?
“There's some questions to whether or not he can do much with it. Does he have a staff to do the investigation, and if he did an investigation, would he have the authority to require someone to give him information?” Otto said.
ABC 17 News tried to talk to Kinder Thursday, but he was not at his office in the capitol. He later released a short response: “I am pleased to receive a good rating from the auditor's office, which shows that our office is well managed and that the fiscal controls we have in place are sound and effective.”
Auditors were also concerned by pay raises in the lieutenant governor's office being more than what other state workers received.