05/18/2023 - Jefferson City, MO
State Auditor Scott Fitzpatrick announced today that his office will continue and complete an audit of the St. Louis Circuit Attorney's Office that originally began in June of 2021. Despite Gardner's abrupt resignation and her numerous attempts to ignore and delay the release of requested records, Auditor Fitzpatrick said the State Auditor's Office will work to obtain the remaining documents necessary to finish the audit.
"Kim Gardner has repeatedly stood in the way of our efforts to complete the audit that was requested by the Board of Aldermen and the people of St. Louis. Before she resigned from office we were prepared to petition the court to enforce a subpoena that was first issued over two and a half months ago to obtain the documents we need to complete our work. She knew we were prepared to enforce the subpoena in court on May 16 and chose to resign on that exact day," said Auditor Fitzpatrick. "Even with her decision to step away earlier than expected, we have a duty to the people of St. Louis to complete our assessment of the performance of the Circuit Attorney's Office. We're hopeful the new Circuit Attorney will work in good faith with us to ensure we can finish the audit without further delay. In the event the new Circuit Attorney does not have access to the records we need, we're prepared to take any and all steps necessary, including additional subpoenas and petitions in court, to obtain the needed documents from Kim Gardner directly."
He added, "One way or another, Kim Gardner will have to answer for her time as Circuit Attorney. Her sudden resignation doesn't negate the duty my office has to make sure the St. Louis Circuit Attorney's Office is transparent and accountable."
The audit of the St. Louis Circuit Attorney's Office is part of an ongoing audit of the City of St. Louis that was requested by the Board of Aldermen in January 2018. The State Auditor's Office under Nicole Galloway first reached out to the Circuit Attorney's Office in June of 2021 in an effort to obtain and review pertinent records. In the two years since that initial contact, the Circuit Attorney's Office has repeatedly ignored or delayed responding to requests from the State Auditor's Office under Galloway and now Fitzpatrick.
Auditor Fitzpatrick served a subpoena on Kim Gardner and the St. Louis Circuit Attorney's office on March 2, 2023 in order to obtain documents necessary to complete the audit. The subpoena requested items such as bank and credit card statements and policy guidelines. The subpoena resulted in the Circuit Attorney's Office producing some of the requested documents, while ignoring or attempting to delay the release of others. On May 15, Auditor Fitzpatrick served subpoenas on the financial institutions that hold the various bank accounts of the Circuit Attorney's Office.
Since the audit of the City of St. Louis began in 2018, the State Auditor's Office has released more than 20 audit reports relating to the request made by the Board of Aldermen. Of the two remaining audits to complete the process, only the audit of the Circuit Attorney's Office has experienced significant delays due to failure to respond to audit requests. The State Auditor's Office anticipates finishing the audit this year.
The last state audit of the city was completed in 2010, and included 26 audit reports.