ICYMI: St. Louis-Post Dispatch Editorial: In Parson versus Galloway, the Defender of Darkness meets his match
“If Parson’s reelection strategy is to present himself as the anti-transparency Defender of Darkness, good luck with that.”
Missouri Gov. Mike Parson got hit with another scathing editorial. We’re having trouble keeping up! (Just kidding, we’re definitely keeping count: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9.)
On Tuesday, St. Louis Post-Dispatch Editorial Board pilloried Parson for trying to hide spending details of $2.38 billion in federal coronavirus aid from Missouri State Auditor Nicole Galloway, who just happens to be Parson’s likely gubernatorial opponent in the fall. The editorial board even gave the GOP governor a new nickname (which we think describes him perfectly). Introducing: Mike Parson, Defender of Darkness.
As the Post-Dispatch explains, Parson has a shady history of opting “for secrecy where transparency is required.” Most recently, he has been criticized for blocking reporters from asking tough questions during press briefings, attacking a newspaper for a story they didn’t write, and spreading lies to constituents on all things coronavirus-related. Seems like a guy you’d want to keep your eye on if he’s given authority over $2.38 billion in taxpayer money.
Luckily, Missouri has someone trying to let the sunshine in – State Auditor Galloway. Galloway wrote a letter to the governor, asking for details on how the governor plans to allocate this money. His response? You can go to my Facebook page.
The battle isn’t over yet, though. According to the Post-Dispatch, the law is on the side of Galloway and the taxpayers.
Read Parson’s 10th scathing editorial in the last two months below:
St. Louis Post-Dispatch: In Parson versus Galloway, the Defender of Darkness meets his match
Gov. Mike Parson might choose to be coy with Missouri taxpayers about his disbursement of $2.38 billion in federal coronavirus funding. But he’s making a big mistake by trying to hide spending details from State Auditor Nicole Galloway. It’s fairly clear from his office’s letter of refusal on April 22 that he has no intention of boosting the profile of Missouri’s only statewide Democratic elected official — and the candidate most likely to oppose him on the ballot in November.
Try as Parson might to cherry-pick state law to justify his refusal, the law is clearly on the auditor’s side. Parson cannot legally block the office’s access to the records of state agencies spending those funds. She has subpoena power and can force compliance if necessary.
Why shouldn’t Galloway just trust Parson to do the right thing with the federal money? He seems like an earnest guy. It would take a pretty coldhearted individual to misdirect pandemic funding or try to exploit it for political purposes.
The problem is, Parson increasingly has opted for secrecy where transparency is required. He tried to manipulate press briefings to avoid answering probing questions. He has politicized the appointment of an advisory group charged with helping him direct coronavirus disbursements. And last week he outright fabricated information to attack this newspaper after we raised concerns over his nonchalance about the pandemic threat facing rural Missourians.
That’s not the behavior of someone who deserves trust with $2.38 billion.
The authority of the auditor’s office to examine all books and records on demand seems indisputable. But Parson’s general counsel informed Galloway that she has no such authority. His letter said if she wants more information she can watch Parson’s briefings online, go to his Facebook page, visit health.mo.gov, or access what she can through the state financial system.
If Parson’s reelection strategy is to present himself as the anti-transparency Defender of Darkness, good luck with that. The law is on the side of sunshine and the public’s right to know.