By MARK EVANS
STE. GENEVIEVE HERALD
Some two weeks after quietly resigning amidst rumors about investigations into her office, Robin Naeger, former Ste. Genevieve County public administrator, told the Herald she had wanted to get her side of the story out for some time.
Naeger indicated that stress and health concerns led her to resign.
“I resigned for health reasons, is the short story,” she said. “The stress and unreasonable demands were making me ill.”
She said she would have liked to have let the public know of her struggles, but never had time to do so.
“I wanted to attend the community forum meetings put on by the extension office, but never could afford even that hour,” she said. “I would have liked to help people understand what the job actually is. It is an unfunded mandate by the state. The county has to pay a budget for it but they don’t get reimbursed by the state.”
Naeger complained of a lack of help and of false accusations.
“I would say nothing good could come from me telling the citizenry the truth, that the job was impossible to do properly single-handedly,” Naeger said.
Eric Slusher of State Auditor Nicole Galloway’s office, meanwhile, confirmed Monday that an investigation is ongoing into the operations of the public administrator’s office.
“The State Auditor’s office received information related to the county public administrator,” Slusher told the Herald. “Our Public Corruption and Fraud Division is currently reviewing the allegations.”
Slusher offered some background into the investigative process.
“When the State Auditor’s office receives reports of potential wrongdoing, the Public Corruption and Fraud Division completes an initial review to determine if allegations are credible,” he said. “These initial investigations are not audits, although at times, they may lead to the launch of an audit. More on the work of the Public Corruption and Fraud Division is available here: https://auditor.mo.gov/audit-information/public-corruption-and-fraud-division
After Naeger resigned March 18, Amanda Kuehn was named interim public administrator, after getting the backing of both the local Republican and Democratic parties.
Prosecuting Attorney Wayne Williams said that, “Everybody was on the same page” about Kuehn being the person to step in, calling her “a competent, responsible person.”
“My replacement might actually get the support and resources I constantly asked for but was denied,” Naeger said.
She told the Herald that false rumors have been spread about her.
“People complained about me to the commissioners and made up stories about how I didn’t do my job, but they really didn’t know what my job was,” Naeger said. “It was an unreasonable burden on my family when I put in the hours necessary, and even then, I woke up every morning and wondered what thing I would have to fail at in order to succeed at something else.”
Shortly before Naeger’s resignation, several people criticized her on Facebook for a sign she had put on her office door that said anyone needing to catch her should call and leave a message, in order to get a return call from her.
Naeger, who in the sign noted that, “There is only one of me,” told the Herald the position “should not be a political one because it deals with the lives of human beings who have no one else.”
Naeger rode a Republican wave into office in 2020, beating long-time Public Administrator Mary Jo Ramer, 4,746 to 4,226. However, Naeger feels politics has been a problem at the county level.
“Politics ruined my job for me,” Naeger said. “I will miss the people I was serving and others who served them as well. I won’t miss the petty political BS one bit.”