The Republican nominee for Missouri auditor says that, if elected, he will use the office — which is tasked with addressing fiscal issues within government, period — to review school classroom curriculum in search of right-wing bogeymen like critical race theory. In essence, candidate Scott Fitzpatrick is vowing to politicize his office in service to culture-war ideological tropes, as state Attorney General Eric Schmitt has already done. Missourians of any party who care about competent governance should forcefully reject this partisan abuse of tax-funded offices.
Incumbent Auditor Nicole Galloway, a Democrat who isn’t seeking reelection, is a certified public accountant, which isn’t legally required for the job but which some have argued should be. Neither Fitzpatrick (currently Missouri’s state treasurer) nor his Democratic opponent, former state Rep. Alan Green, is a CPA. But of the two, Fitzpatrick appears to have a unique lack of understanding about what the position is supposed to entail.
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Among the state auditor’s duties, according to the Missouri Constitution, is to “establish appropriate systems of accounting for all public officials,” to supervise budget systems for political subdivisions of the state, and to conduct financial audits and reports regarding state and local finances.
The section also specifies what isn’t the auditor’s job: Anything that “is not related to the supervising and auditing of the receipt and expenditure of public funds.”
Try and reconcile that with the section of Fitzpatrick’s campaign website titled “School District Oversight.” The auditor’s office does indeed have the authority to audit the finances of school districts; Galloway has issued more than 20 such audits. But the key word there is “finances,” which is the whole point of the office. Fitzpatrick vows to increase such audits, but he also vows to ensure schools are “keeping politically divisive curriculum like Critical Race Theory, and discussions relating to gender or sexual preferences out of the classroom.”
Critical race theory is an advanced academic concept used in law schools to study institutional racism. It isn’t generally taught in Missouri grade schools or high schools. But that’s irrelevant, since the current conservative fixation on the term is a mere dog-whistle reference to any classroom discussion of race and racial discrimination or inequality. Ditto with “gender and sexual preference,” familiar obsessions designed to torque up the base.
But more to the point: What does any of this have to do with fiscal accountability in government? Nothing. Just like suing China and doing photo ops on the southern border has nothing to do with state legal issues, yet that hasn’t stopped Schmitt from pulling those and other stunts in hopes of capturing some MAGA magic for his U.S. Senate campaign. How refreshing it would be if these and other elected Missouri Republicans would actually do their jobs, instead of cynically using their offices as soapboxes to pander to their angriest voters.