Bates County’s use of tax dollars for “Posse Horses” faces scrutiny

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Were expenditures made by the Bates County Sheriff’s Office for the purchase and care of horses used by the “Sheriff’s Posse” a misuse of taxpayer funds? A regularly scheduled audit of Bates County, announced today by Missouri State Auditor Scott Fitzpatrick, will attempt to answer that question while also conducting a thorough review of county operations.

“When taxpayer funds are being used by a sheriff’s office to pay for the purchase and care of a posse of horses, it certainly raises red flags and spurs the need for scrutiny. In addition to the work our auditors will do to examine the effectiveness of the county government, they will closely examine the spending decisions made by the Bates County Sheriff’s Office as we try to determine if taxpayer funds were used appropriately,” said Fitzpatrick.

Concerns about taxpayers’ dollars being used to support the Bates County Sheriff’s Posse and other purchases made by the Bates County Sheriff were originally raised by a whistleblower complaint filed with the State Auditor’s Office. The investigation raised concerns about whether the purchases were necessary and appropriate expenditures of public funds and determined that the State Auditor’s Office should more closely examine them during the regularly scheduled audit of the county.

The State Auditor’s Office last audited Bates County in 2017. The previous audit issued the county an overall performance rating of “fair,” which indicated that the county needed to improve operations in several areas. The audit raised concerns with the management of county funds and recommended measures to ensure better accounting practices and oversight.

The audit officially commenced with an entrance meeting with county officials on Wednesday, January 31, at 9 a.m.

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