JEFFERSON CITY — As House budget chairman, Rep. Allen Icet, R-Wildwood, helped determine how Missouri's money should be spent. On Monday morning, he announced he now wants to audit how those expenditures occur.
The lawmaker from the St. Louis suburb of Wildwood is the first Republican to announce a 2010 challenge to Democratic Auditor Susan Montee.
Icet, 52, was first elected to the House in 2002, and term limits prohibit him from seeking re-election. He has served as House Budget Committee chairman since 2005.
"One thing I've tried to be very diligent with as budget chairman is being very careful with where taxpayers' money is spent," Icet said in an interview Monday. "On the auditor's side, it's the flip side of the coin. ... You ensure the money is spent where it's supposed to be."
Montee said in March that she planned to seek a second, four-year term. She was not immediately available Monday morning for comment on the announcement because she was in a meeting, an aide said.
Icet said he hopes he can get the Republican Party to get behind his candidacy to avoid a primary.
But St. Louis attorney Tom Schweich, also a Republican, said Monday that he is considering a run for auditor. Schweich is a former state department official under President George W. Bush who had considered running for U.S. Senate in 2010. Last week he announced he would not do so.
When Montee ran for auditor four years ago, she stressed her background as a certified public accountant and as Buchanan County's auditor.
Icet downplayed the importance of an accounting degree, noting that Montee's predecessor as auditor — U.S. Sen. Claire McCaskill — was not an accountant and yet did a good job. Icet declined to evaluate Montee's performance as auditor.
Besides his role in crafting Missouri's $23 billion operating budget, Icet said he also has corporate experience with financing. He is a consultant on capital expansion projects for Houston-based petroleum company ConocoPhillips.
To be auditor, "clearly you need budget experience; you need to be good with numbers," Icet said.