JEFFERSON CITY • The Missouri Republican Party is not publicly flinching in its support for a candidate for auditor who has faced personal financial problems.
Amid reports about lawsuits, debts and garnished wages related to Saundra McDowell, the GOP nominee for state auditor, the Missouri GOP issued a statement to the Post-Dispatch backing the Jefferson City Republican in her race against Democrat Nicole Galloway.
And, the party disavowed rumblings that officials were seeking to push McDowell out of the race because of her problems.
“The Missouri GOP doesn't have anything to do with those reports,” said spokesman Chris Nuelle.
McDowell, an attorney who formerly worked for the Missouri Secretary of State’s office, won a four-way Republican Party primary race last week, amassing 32.5 percent of the vote.
Galloway quickly slammed McDowell, pointing out her being ordered to pay $32,658 to a Springfield landlord in 2015 after she and her husband, Jonathan, stopped paying rent on a home.
The couple also was ordered to pay the City of Springfield $1,235 for unpaid utility bills.
Galloway said the financial problems are a red flag for a person who wants to oversee a state office that monitors how state and local governments are spending tax dollars.
McDowell dismissed those concerns, but has given multiple answers for why she and her husband, Jonathan, ran into problems.
At a July forum, McDowell said the house they were purchasing was fully furnished at a rate of $3,600 per month. But, they soon found out that the furniture had a lien against it.
“We tried to go back, renegotiate the contract. We tried to get out it,” McDowell said of the house.
In an email to the Post-Dispatch last week, McDowell offered up a second reason for the lawsuit over the house.
“My husband and I did struggle to make ends meet earlier in our careers, like so many Americans did under President Obama's stagnating economy. We have made every effort possible to pay off the debts that we owe, and we will continue to do so,” she wrote.
The Republican Party also offered up an explanation for the problems.
“Like many Missourians, the McDowells struggled financially after college,” the party said in a statement.
McDowell did not appear to be home Monday and she did not respond to an email. The phone number listed on her campaign finance documents is no longer in service.
Prior to working at the Secretary of State’s office, McDowell was an assistant attorney general investigating Medicaid fraud. She and her husband had a private law practice in Springfield from 2010 to 2014.
McDowell also served eight years in the U.S. Air Force, including six years on active duty.
In April, Jonathan McDowell was suspended indefinitely by the Missouri Supreme Court over allegations that his failure to file legal documents cost an airline pilot his employment discrimination case.
Galloway was appointed to auditor in 2015 after the death of Tom Schweich. Others on the Nov. 6 ballot include Libertarian Sean O’Toole, Green Party candidate Don Fitz, and Constitution Party candidate Jacob Luetkemeyer.
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