01/31/2024 - Jefferson City, MO
Were expenditures made by the Bates County Sheriff's Office to purchase
and care for horses used by the "Sheriff's Posse" a misuse of
taxpayer funds? A regularly scheduled audit of Bates County announced today by Missouri
State Auditor Scott Fitzpatrick will try to answer that question while also
conducting a thorough review of county operations.
"When taxpayer funds are being used by a sheriff's office to pay
for the purchase and care of a posse of horses, that certainly raises red flags
and spurs the need for close scrutiny. In addition to the work our auditors
will do to examine the effectiveness of the county government, they will
closely examine the spending decisions made by the Bates County Sheriff's
Office as we try to determine if taxpayer funds were used appropriately,"
Concerns about taxpayers dollars being used to support the Bates County
Sheriff's Posse and other purchases made by the Bates County Sheriff were
originally raised by a whistleblower complaint filed with the State Auditor's
Office. The investigation raised concerns with whether the purchases were
necessary and appropriate expenditures of public funds and determined the State
Auditor's Office should more closely examine them during the regularly
scheduled audit of the county.
The State Auditor's Office last audited Bates County in 2017. The previous audit issued the county an overall performance rating of "fair,"
which indicated the
county needed to improve operations in several areas. The audit raised concerns
with management of county funds and recommended measures to ensure better
accounting practices and oversight.
The audit officially
commenced with an entrance meeting with county officials on Wednesday, January
31st. Individuals may provide confidential information for consideration during
the audit of Bates County to the State Auditor's Whistleblower Hotline at
800-347-8597, by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or by visiting www.auditor.mo.gov/hotline.