Re-elected to her second term during 2018, Phelps County Clerk Pamela Grow recalls, “I ran on a platform with the same four planks I used in 2014 — vote integrity, obeying the laws, transparency, and accountability in governance and maintaining a servant attitude.”

As Missouri’s Local Election Authorities grapple with the difficulties of conducting elections during the outbreak of novel coronavirus disease, the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act was signed into law. And the Election Security Grants through the federal Election Assistance Commission was authorized. These consisted of $400 million to be disbursed among the election authorities in the states during the 2020 federal election cycle.

Phelps County Clerk Pamela Grow said she was notified by the office of Missouri Secretary of State Jay Ashcroft, on April 24, that the grant agreement and the signed standard certification — to permit receipt of the Phelps County share of this money —  was to be returned by April 29.

The grant award for Phelps County was for $42,696. This was in an 83.33% federal/16.67% state ratio, which implies that $35,579 of the funds were federal in origin, Grow said. 

The grant documents outlined audit and accounting requirements, allowable uses of funds, reporting and additional terms and conditions. 

Grow said, the standard certifications consisted of signed assurance that lobbying activities would not be funded, and the requirements of the Trafficking Victims Protection Act of 2000 would be adhered to.

Re-elected to her second term during 2018, Grow said on Thursday, “I was quoted very publicly in local newspapers about my commitment to avoid taking federal money for the operation of my office.”

Grow then cited several issues with accepting federal money, which was behind her decision not to return the grant documents and decline Phelps County’s allocation of the federal election security grant funds.  

“This money is not free; there are reporting and accounting burdens,” Grow said. 

The Help America Vote Act of 2002 left an 18-inch thick stack of paperwork in the office of the county clerk, representing many hours of labor for her predecessor and valuable time for herself as the grant period ran out. 

She next referred to the very legal entanglements with numerous unreadable and unknowable federal regulations behind the money, noting that "this money adds to the already enormous federal debt which approximates $75,000 per person in the United States.”

Grow said she believes it would be “unconscionable and reprehensible to contribute to this burden for future generations.”

Grow said she has not returned the grant documents and notified Ashcroft and Co-Director and Counsel for Elections Kendra Lane, on May 4 that she planned to decline.