New questions raised in how Circuit Attorney Kim Gardner spends tax money

Published: Mar. 23, 2023 at 8:21 AM CDT
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ST. LOUIS, Mo. (KMOV) - The legal proceedings to oust the St. Louis prosecutor from office are raising new questions about how the Circuit Attorney spends your money and answers your questions.

Circuit Attorney Kim Gardner received a subpoena to show up in person at a State Office tomorrow to answer the State Auditor’s questions about her office’s finances.

The Auditor says she hasn’t turned them over.

Information about how Gardner spends tax money has been elusive for years.

“The problems with the Circuit Attorney are numerous and quite varied,” said Attorney Elkin Kistner. Kistner has represented a St. Louis citizen on a lawsuit about circuit attorney Kim Gardner paying for private legal counsel, dating back to 2019. He says the public should know how their money is being spent.

“If public officials, through corruption or incompetence, can allow public funds to be dissipated in an unlawful manner, we are at risk as a community,” Kistner said.

According to new documents filed by the Missouri Attorney General Tuesday, legal fees paid by the Circuit Attorney’s office to outside legal counsel have ballooned during her time in office to well over half a million dollars.

Just last week, Gardner was approved by the city’s financial oversight board to transfer more than $63,000 from an account dedicated to employee salaries to another account to pay for legal services instead.

News 4 has requested information on how attorneys currently representing Gardner will be paid.

A spokesperson for the office telling News 4 investigates: “I don’t have that information.” Michael Downey, a local attorney and one of a number of attorneys representing her in the quo warranto case, has indicated he doesn’t expect to be paid.

News 4 also has a pending public records request from nearly three years ago, asking for information about contracts with private contractors, but the office has never provided that information.

“It is good government that would militate in favor of public officials actually volunteering information,” Kistner said.

Gardner’s office has previously said they are cooperating with the audit of her office.

A spokesperson for Gardner declined to provide additional information to News 4 Wednesday, but we will continue to follow the situation.