Presiding County Commissioner John Griesheimer left an angry voicemail on a reporter’s telephone demanding a retraction to a story that appeared in last weekend’s Missourian.
Griesheimer was upset over a story about the findings of an audit released last week.
“I read this article here, and you owe me a retraction — a big-time retraction — for what you put in that paper,” Griesheimer asserted on the voice message, which was left last Friday around 7 p.m.
Upon hearing the message Monday morning, The Missourian called Griesheimer to discuss the matter, but he did not return a phone call.
The Missourian then approached Griesheimer after Tuesday’s county commission meeting and asked if he would like to meet about the issue, but he was not interested.
However, he did say that there were two negative stories about the county in the weekend paper but nothing about the final funding for the Bend Road bridge being approved by the East-West Gateway Council of Governments.
The audit that was the subject of the story recommended that the county develop a new system to electronically imprint signatures on checks.
The news story brought up the fact that last year County Auditor Tammy Vemmer accused the county commission of violating state law.
She said the commissioners had a check drawn without her knowledge or consent and had her signature electronically applied to the check.
The part of last week’s story that upset Griesheimer concerned a statement that County Treasurer Debbie Aholt made last year.
Last year, Aholt said that she heard that Griesheimer had her signature electronically applied to the check without her approval and when he knew she had concerns about the payment.
That statement upset Griesheimer because he thought it made it look as though he acted alone in the matter.
But Griesheimer said all of the commissioners were in agreement over the issuing of the check.
“I did not order that check to be written, the commission did, and (County Clerk) Debbie Door, signed it,” Griesheimer said on the message.
Moreover, Griesheimer said the statement from Aholt is “absolutely, factually not correct, and I demand and I want a retraction on that because that is a false statement, an absolute lie.”
Griesheimer added that the article made him very upset.
“I don’t mind being blamed for stuff that I do, but I’ll be damned if I’m going to get blamed for something I didn’t do,” he said.
Moreover, Griesheimer said the commission’s actions on the check were “under the law.”
The outside audit, which was done by Nichols, Stopp, & VanHoy of St. Louis, recommended that controls be put in place to ensure that officeholders whose names are electronically imprinted on checks are aware that it is happening.