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Cirtin cleared by special prosecutor

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A day ahead of his primary loss to Sen. Bob Dixon, R-Springfield, Greene County Presiding Commissioner Bob Cirtin was cleared of allegations related to a county sales tax.

Christian County Prosecuting Attorney Amy Fite in April was chosen as special prosecutor to rule on an affidavit seeking Cirtin’s removal from office filed by resident Linda Simkins.

Citing whistleblower documents sent to Missouri Auditor Nicole Galloway’s office from former county Communications and Public Engagement Director Trysta Herzog, Simkins alleged Cirtin forced county employees to spend work time promoting the Invest in Greene County Political Action Committee. The PAC worked last year to gain voter approval of the county’s new half-cent general revenue sales tax.

In her Aug. 6 ruling, Fite said: “While there are facts that support that some of the conduct alleged in the affidavit did occur, this conduct did not involve a willful or fraudulent violation or neglect of any official duty. Thus, justification is lacking to prosecute the affidavit.”

Fite’s ruling states Cirtin did perform work on the PAC and request county employees do the same, but a statutory prohibition does not exist for county officials like it does for state employees. The ruling also indicates Cirtin continued to work as presiding commissioner while representing the PAC, quieting a concern in the affidavit that he was neglecting his official duties.

Cirtin yesterday issued a statement through his campaign Facebook page, but this morning, the page was not operational. He could not be reached for comment by deadline to provide the statement.

Simkins, a retired litigation paralegal who has said she has no backing or political influence and challenged the county as a concerned citizen, yesterday issued a statement to Springfield Business Journal.

"The response of the special prosecutor confirms that Mr. Cirtin used county resources, county employee time and county email to work on the PAC. Just because his actions are punishable under state law and the law doesn’t apply to county officials should not absolve his conduct in the public’s view,” Simkins said in the statement. “As a citizen of Greene County, I have a right to hold my elected officials accountable. Mr. Cirtin has attacked me personally and continues to do so.”

The Missouri Ethics Commission in April dismissed a separate but related complaint against Cirtin.

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