Audit: Ethics Commission Could Take Better Advantage of New Power

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JEFFERSON CITY - An audit report released Thursday has one watchdog agency under the microscope of another.

In an audit of the Missouri Ethics Commission, the state auditor's office found the organization could have been more aggressive with newly granted powers.

A senate bill approved last year, gives the commission power to initiate investigations on its own, unlike the previous requirement there be an outside complaint.

However, the commission has not had the manpower to run investigations using this new power. It requested seven new positions as part of its 2012 budget, but was only granted two.

The audit report suggested the commission generate more revenue by hiking up registration fees charged to lobbyists. Currently, lobbyists must pay a $10 fee but the national average sits closer to $100, according to the audit report.

The auditor's office wasn't able to dig through everything though. State law does not provide the state auditor's office with access to the commission's files of investigations, audits or reviews. Because of this, the auditor's office could not determine if the commission responded to complaints in a timely fashion.

In a response to the audit, the commission said it generally agreed with the suggestions put forward in the report. Overall, the commission received a "good" rating.