A judge ruled Monday that the audit of Clay County's government, which was requested by residents, can proceed.
Cole County Circuit Judge Jon Beetem denied the Clay County Commission’s request for a preliminary injunction on the audit, which began in December.
A group of Clay County residents formally requested an audit last year. They were concerned about a lack of transparency, record tampering and tens of thousands of dollars in penalties the county incurred because it didn’t pay bills on time.
The commission sought to limit the scope of the investigation in January after Missouri Auditor Nicole Galloway issued a subpoena to force the county to turn over documentation from all commission meetings in 2017 and 2018.
The county claimed Galloway was overstepping her authority by seeking attorney-client communications and “blanket access” to closed-session minutes of commissioner meetings. At the time, Galloway accused the commission of trying to “silence the voices” of its own citizens.
Galloway issued a short statement following Monday’s decision.
"The Clay County Commission has repeatedly tried to stall this audit. With today's ruling, the audit citizens demanded will continue," the statement said.
In an e-mailed statement, Clay County said Judge Beetem’s decision does not weigh in on whether Galloway’s subpoena request has merit.
The statement reads: “Clay County awaits further opinions of the court on the validity of the State Auditor’s subpoena, which was not addressed in today’s order. In the meantime, county staff continue to cooperate with the State Auditor on lawful and reasonable requests.”
This story was updated Tuesday at 11 a.m. to include a response from Clay County.
Lisa Rodriguez is the afternoon newscaster and a reporter for KCUR 89.3. Follow her on Twitter @larodrig.