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JEFFERSON CITY - The Missouri Division of Tourism needs a new leader after director Ward Franz resigned Friday, November 1.

Franz resigned after the Missouri Department of Economic Development was notified of a whistleblower complaint saying Franz misused state funds and received gifts from lobbyists.

A letter from state Auditor Nicole Galloway's office outlined the allegations found in the complaint. The whistleblower alleges Franz received two baseball tickets valued at over $1,000 in June 2019, attending games at Yankee Stadium and Fenway Park. This is in violation of executive order 18-10, which states “No state employee of the executive branch shall knowingly solicit or accept any gift from a lobbyist."

The whistleblower also alleges Franz overstayed at hotels paid for by the Division of Tourism, including staying three extra days in Anaheim, California and two extra days in St. Louis. Franz was in both cities for tourism conferences.

In a statement to KOMU 8 News, Maggie Kost, the Director of Strategy and Performance at the Missouri Department of Economic Development said “Fortunately, many of the accusations proved be unfounded; however, there were concerns uncovered about behavior not meeting the standards set forth by Governor Parsons Executive Order 18-10 and related policies. As a result, Director Franz resigned effective November 1.”

Steph Deidrick, the press secretary for the state auditor’s office, declined to comment on the ongoing investigation.

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