Missouri auditor candidate faces questions over eligibility

10 months 2 hours 56 minutes ago Thursday, August 16 2018 Aug 16, 2018 Thursday, August 16, 2018 2:05:00 PM CDT August 16, 2018 in News
By: The Associated Press

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) — A Missouri candidate who recently claimed a surprise victory in the Republican primary for state auditor is now facing questions about if she’s lived in the state long enough to be eligible to run.

The state Constitution outlines that an auditor must have been a Missouri resident for 10 years at the time of election. But Saundra McDowell, an attorney living in Jefferson City, didn’t move to Missouri until 2010, the Kansas City Star reported.

McDowell declined the newspaper’s requests for comment. McDowell said in February that she intended to be a Missouri resident before Nov. 6, 2008 while planning where she would move after graduating from Regent University Law School in Virginia.

“The intent requirement is very important,” McDowell told The Columbia Tribune. “While I was in law school I was in temporary status.”

But legal experts differ on McDowell’s interpretation of the state constitution.

McDowell has a plausible case for meeting the residency requirement based on a 1972 ruling by the Missouri Supreme Court, said Michael Wolff, a retired judge of the Missouri Supreme Court and former dean of St. Louis University Law School.

The high court’s decision to deem Kit Bond qualified to run for governor after living outside the state for nearly a decade “shows that courts will stretch to not exclude a candidate who has a clear connection to the state,” Wolff said.

Frank Bowman, a professor at the University of Missouri School of Law, disagreed, saying that an individual can’t be a resident of a place where they’ve never lived.

McDowell is slated to face Democratic incumbent Nicole Galloway in the Nov. 6 general election. Another candidate on the ballot would have to file a legal challenge to McDowell’s residency within five days of the election being certified on Aug. 28. Changes to the ballot must be finalized Sept. 25.

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