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Galloway sworn in as state auditor

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Nicole Galloway

Missouri Auditor Nicole Galloway

JEFFERSON CITY • The wooden door of the State Auditor's Office, which bore Tom Schweich's name three months ago, now has a blank space in preparation for a new one: Nicole Galloway.

Galloway, 32, was sworn in Monday as state auditor, a permanent replacement for Schweich, a Republican, following his suicide in February. Gov. Jay Nixon, a Democrat, picked Galloway, the Democratic Boone County treasurer, to fill out Schweich’s term, which ends in January 2019.

"A priority of this office moving forward will be to continue the vital work Schweich started by bringing the office closer to taxpayers," Galloway said Monday, her husband, Jon, and her sons William, 3, and Benjamin, 18 months, sitting behind her.

Galloway promised to make protecting the private data of Missourians a priority. She will add cyber security to the audit procedures moving forward because "government must be held accountable for keeping private data safe."

"I think about my own family: I can access my son's medical history, book a room at a state park and pay for health insurance and I can do so while driving across the country on vacation," she said. "We must ensure criminals near and far do not access our personal data."

She hasn't hammered out other priorities yet, but met with John Watson, Nixon's former chief of staff appointed as auditor until a permanent replacement was found, to work on transitioning into the office.

She takes up her post at a time of turmoil for the auditor's office.

On Feb. 26, Schweich, a front-runner for the Republican nomination for governor, shot himself in the head in his Clayton home after voicing concern about the tactics of fellow Republicans in the GOP primary campaign.

About a month later, his spokesman, Spence Jackson, committed suicide in his Jefferson City home. In a suicide note, Jackson said he could not face being unemployed again.

Because of the trauma that has rocked the office, some though Galloway might ease in on replacing staff members -- even though it's normal for an incoming statewide elected official to bring his or her own top staffers. But last week, the two top employees in the auditor's office -- chief of staff Trish Vincent and Deputy Auditor Harry Otto -- said they were told they would no longer have jobs when Galloway took office.

On Monday, Galloway said Vincent and Otto resigned and remained mum on their replacements.

"It's always been my policy that I will talk internally with staff about changes first before announcing them publicly," she said. "Now that I'm sworn in, I have an opportunity to do that."

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Alex Stuckey is a statehouse reporter for the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.

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