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Read the Greene County whistleblower’s complaints against Cirtin, county

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Amid an ongoing saga over alleged misuse of public resources in Greene County, Missouri Auditor Nicole Galloway’s office released the name of the first of 22 whistleblowers who brought on the challenge.

Galloway’s office has cited the need to protect the whistleblowers’ identities for declining to provide some documentation to the county. However, former county Communications and Public Engagement Director Trysta Herzog gave permission for the release of the documents she provided to the auditor’s office. Herzog started working today in a new role as vice president of community engagement for Big Brothers Big Sisters of the Ozarks.

Thirty-eight pages of documentation provided to Springfield Business Journal — available to read by clicking here — show Herzog alerted the auditor’s office, leading to the investigation. The auditor’s office in December issued a news release indicating it was seeking permission to conduct an audit over the alleged misuse of public funds related to the November passage of the county’s new half-cent general revenue sales tax.

Among the core claims in the documents, Herzog alleges multiple times that Presiding Commissioner Bob Cirtin attempted to force her and colleagues to spend work time working on the political action committee for the tax proposal, organize employee advocacy efforts, raise funds and come up with lists of donors.

“We explained over and over again that we cannot advocate in our official roles and that we should not even discuss advocacy on county campus or through county resources,” Herzog wrote in a memo to county human relations officials, provided to the auditor’s office. “That advice, although given time and time again, has fallen on deaf ears.”

The documents show that on Nov. 29, after the tax passed, Herzog informed the auditor’s office she “faced nearly daily coercion on county campus, through county email and county-paid cellphone, from ... Cirtin to participate in political activities as part of my job.” Herzog indicated in the email she believed the actions to be a violation of Missouri Statutes related to prohibitions on political activities by government employees.

Herzog also alleged in the documents to the auditor’s office that Cirtin moved to retaliate against her after she expressed concerns over the alleged misuse of public funds. Specifically, she claims Cirtin attempted to interfere with her pay by docking it between $1,000 and $5,000.

Cirtin, who could not be reached for comment by deadline, has declined to speak on the issue to the Springfield News-Leader, citing his attorney’s advice.

The audit request sparked a lawsuit by Greene County Sheriff Jim Arnott, who claims the auditor’s office withheld needed documents containing the whistleblower complaints, after he filed a Sunshine Law request. The auditor’s office released Herzog’s documentation, in part, to satisfy that request, according to a news release.

Last month, the county issued a news release indicating it was cooperating with a Missouri Ethics Commission investigation into a complaint of alleged misuse of public funds. County officials claim Galloway brought about her own investigation without working with the ethics commission and issued statements to the media without providing adequate information to county officials.

“I believe we are on the best path to demonstrate to the public our desire  to pursue and reveal the truth,” Cirtin said in the Jan. 16 release. “The commission and our attorneys will continue to devote all of their efforts to provide the Missouri Ethics Commission with everything they need to conduct their investigation.”

The county is seeking to collect, review and produce emails and other records related to the alleged behavior, according to the release.

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