Missouri Treasurer Scott Fitzpatrick touts his experience, priorities ahead of Nov. 8 election for state auditor

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. – With one week until election day, Missouri Treasurer Scott Fitzpatrick believes his experience with the state budget and as a small business owner will bring a common sense approach to the state auditor’s office.

“The treasurer experience, my time in the legislature where I worked on the budget for six years, and the time I spent dealing with the government as a private citizen running a business has given me the opportunity to see how the government operates from three different perspectives,” Fitzpatrick, the Republican nominee for the auditor’s race, told The Heartlander. 

“When you’re talking about the job of the auditor, where it’s to evaluate state programs, look at how agencies are run – I think that’s a trifecta of experience that nobody else can match.” 

Fitzpatrick’s passion for fiscal responsibility and limited government began when he started his own small business at 17 years old and learned how government involvement can impede a business’s ability to succeed. 

“The reason I got into politics in the first place was because, as a small business owner, I was frustrated with the way bureaucracy worked and how the government was spending our money,” he said.

One of the main aspects of serving as an effective auditor is the ability to be objective, fair and nonpartisan, Fitzpatrick says, because waste and fraud should be sniffed out impartially – regardless of affiliation or ideology.  

“I think it’s important to have an auditor that’s willing to call balls and strikes, no matter who you’re auditing,” he said. “And if that means, as a Republican state auditor, I have to shine a light on bad things that other Republicans are doing, that’s what I’m going to do. I won’t find a lot of joy in that, but I will do it because it’s the job of the auditor.”

If elected as Missouri taxpayers’ government watchdog, Fitzpatrick plans to take a closer look into government-run programs and agencies that may not have received their fair share of audits in recent years – and that includes taxpayer-funded school districts.

“Something that has been on the back burner for the auditor’s office for a very long time is, we’re almost 15 years into the legislature giving the auditor authority to audit school districts. But I think we’re only in the low-to-mid-20s in terms of the number of schools that have been audited in that time. Yet, we have over 500 schools in the state of Missouri,” Fitzpatrick said.

“So, we need to make sure that taxpayers know how their money is being spent in the public education system. And I think we’ll be able to play a part in the auditor’s office in helping get our education system back on track and get kids moving in the right direction.”

Another priority for Fitzpatrick if he’s elected is making sure pandemic relief funds are spent appropriately by state and local governments, saying there could be potential for waste, fraud and abuse when doling them out.

“The city of St. Louis got $500 million just from the [American Rescue Plan Act], and they’ve talked about using some of that money to pay to send people out of state to get abortions,” Fitzpatrick scoffed. “There is going to be more abuse of taxpayer money in the next couple of years, as this ARPA money gets spent, than any other time in the history of our state.”

While acknowledging potential for waste and corruption in governments’ handling of ARPA funds, Fitzpatrick believes the mere prospect of a wary watchdog in the auditor’s office may persuade officials to follow the law.

“Having someone in the auditor’s office communicating, ‘Hey, if you abuse these funds, we’re going to find it; if there’s fraud, if you steal this money, we’re going to find it and we’re going to hold you accountable,’ then that’ll reduce the instances of that happening. It’s not like I necessarily want to find those things, but if we do find them, we’re going to work to hold those people accountable.”

Appointed treasurer in 2019 and elected to a full term in 2020, Fitzpatrick has had his fair share of victories as Missouri’s chief financial officer. In his first two years in office, he doubled the size of the state’s savings and investment program for individuals with disabilities and their families. Fitzpatrick also became the fastest treasurer in Missouri history to return $1 million in unclaimed property, doing so in just his first nine days in office. 

The treasurer’s latest decisive action came just last month, when he withdrew $500 million of state employees’ pension funds from BlackRock Inc. over the firm’s prioritizing of left-wing social and environmental interests over those of shareholders. 

“The financial sector has kind of been co-opted in the last couple years by the political left to act as a vehicle for implementing parts of their agenda that they can’t get accomplished legislatively,” he said.

“So what ends up happening is, you have a response to the Occupy Wall Street movement, for example, where large corporations give kind of a wink and nod to get behind some of these woke policies. Like forcing companies to perform racial equity audits – those are expensive and serve no interest in advancing value for shareholders.” 

Fitzpatrick believes social and environmental initiatives making their way into the private financial sector is the beginning of a slippery slope, and warns that if those with authority do not push back, it could evolve into a substantial roadblock for small businesses across the country. 

“That’s going to have overarching effects on small businesses in this country if you’ve got a financial institution that’s saying, ‘In order for you to qualify for a loan, you’re going to have to show us what your carbon footprint is.’ It’s gone to another level that I don’t think anybody expected it to go to.” 

Fitzpatrick is running against Democrat Alan Green and Libertarian John Hartwig to be Missouri taxpayers’ watchdog. The general election will take place on Nov. 8. 

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