JEFFERSON CITY — New Missouri Auditor Tom Schweich pledged on Wednesday to avoid partisan audits while announcing a senior staff team heavy with Republican political experience.
Schweich took office Monday after defeating Democratic Auditor Susan Montee in the November election. He said his deputy state auditor will be Harry Otto, a certified public accountant from Jefferson City who lost a Republican primary for state Senate last August.
His chief litigation counsel will be former Greene County Prosecutor Darrell Moore, who was defeated in a crowded Republican primary for a southwest Missouri congressional seat.
Schweich's staff also includes people involved in successful Republican campaigns. His chief of staff is Matt Beckmann, who managed Schweich's campaign last year. His administration director is Trish Vincent, who worked on last year's campaign of U.S. Sen. Roy Blunt and previously was a chief of staff and Revenue Department director for Blunt's son, former Gov. Matt Blunt.
Gary McElyea is Schweich's media director, switching from a similar position with Republican Lt. Gov. Peter Kinder. His legislative adviser is Mike Lodewegen, who worked last year for state Sen. Kevin Engler when he was majority leader.
Schweich's general counsel is Frank Jung, who previously was an attorney in Gov. Matt Blunt's administration. Jung recently had been working as the general counsel for the Missouri Gaming Commission until he was replaced last fall by Democratic Gov. Jay Nixon's administration.
Despite surrounding himself with people well-acquainted with Republican politics, Schweich said his office would not set a political target on Nixon's administration.
"I am not going to be a partisan auditor," he said. "I'm going to call them exactly like I seem them. It will have nothing to do with politics whatsoever."
Schweich retained several senior staff members who manage audits and who have worked under several different Republican and Democratic auditors.
He also hired at least one person with little connection to Missouri or political experience. Vanessa Chandler, an attorney who most recently worked for aerospace contractors, was chosen as Schweich's director of communications and senior policy adviser. Chandler, a fitness buff who said she set five powerlifting records in Virginia, said she knew Schweich from working with him at the Bryan Cave law firm.