Greene County Sheriff Jim Arnott has released a statement in response to a Cole County judge’s decision in his lawsuit against State Auditor Nicole Galloway regarding issues related to Missouri’s Sunshine Law.
The Sheriff filed suit in January 2018 related to a whistleblower complaint claiming a possible misuse of public funds on a tax measure up for public vote. The Sheriff was claiming that the Auditor was using the Sunshine Law’s whistleblower protections to hide information that should have been made available to the public.
The response from Galloway to the suit was that releasing certain documents, even with information redacted, would still expose the identity of the whistleblower and thus could not be released to the public.
Judge Jon Beetem agreed with Galloway, saying the documents would have revealed the whistleblower’s identity, and therefore her actions were justified under the state’s Sunshine Law whistleblower protections.
“The court’s ruling upholds this office’s legal duty to protect those who report government waste, fraud and abuse,” Galloway said in a press statement after the ruling. “Taxpayers have a right to hold their government accountable. When whistleblowers come forward to my office, they expect protection. Without the information provided by whistleblowers and the legal safeguards that shield those individuals, the audit of Greene County may not have happened.”
Greene County Sheriff Arnott responded to the suit this afternoon in a statement he sent to OI.
Arnott said that he disagrees with the decision, and believes that a Court of Appeals would disagree with the decision, but because he feels it’s “time to move forward” he will not appeal the judge’s ruling.
The Sheriff also stated that throughout the case there has been no specific information or allegations about wrongdoing within the Greene County Sheriff’s Office.
Here is the Sheriff’s statement:SheriffArnottStatementLawsuit
Here is the judge’s ruling:ArnottvGallowayJudgment_FINAL