Subscribe for 99¢
Supporters promise efficiency

Is getting rid of Sharon Carpenter the way to pay for police body cameras? (File photo)

ST. LOUIS • After blasting the operations inside the recorder of deeds office earlier this year, the state auditor said this week that the city agency had made a bona fide effort to turn itself around.

The recorder of deeds had been criticized in a January audit that found the office in violation of IRS reporting requirements, and also cited it for inadequate accounting and improper bidding for construction contracts.

The audit also found that Sharon Quigley Carpenter, the city’s longtime recorder, misspent at least $3,000 in public money.

Overall, Missouri Auditor Nicole Galloway gave the recorder’s office a performance rating of “poor.”

But after following up in August, Galloway now says “the recorder’s office has shown a genuine interest in improving office operations.”

“There are still areas of concerns, but I do want to commend the individuals who do the day-to-day work in the office for their commitment to making improvements,” she said.

Previously, auditors found that construction contracts had been awarded to the son of a former employee without having gone through proper bidding procedures. The audit further found that payments to vendors were not properly reported to the Internal Revenue Service.

This week, Galloway said the recorder’s office had cleaned up its IRS reporting and the manner in which it awards contracts, and appeared to be in compliance with state law.

Another issue that hasn’t completely been settled from the January audit was a finding that thousands of dollars in inappropriate and undocumented purchases were made from an account that was supposed to be used strictly for records preservation and related technology.

The recorder’s office has since split up the account into three separate funds for record preservation, technology and miscellaneous expenses to keep better track of the money, but Galloway still has concerns.

“The continuing concern is that the money that was in the Records Preservation Account was not divided up properly between the funds, and therefore may not be spent on its intended purpose,” Galloway said in a statement.

Additionally, recorder’s office staff members are continuing to work to determine where $38,000 in the office’s escrow account belongs.

Carpenter, who was first elected recorder in 1980, has had a shaky last two years.

In 2014, she was found to be in violation of the state’s nepotism law when it was discovered that she had hired her great-nephew for summer work.

She was forced to resign, but she ran again later that year, winning re-election with 61 percent of the vote.

Carpenter, who has said she never intended to violate the law and was embarrassed by some of the reports about her office, has also said some of the negativity directed toward her is politically motivated.

Political Fix e-newsletter

* I understand and agree that registration on or use of this site constitutes agreement to its user agreement and privacy policy.

Koran Addo is a reporter at the St. Louis Post-Dispatch