Missouri governor\'s office spending sparks concern

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JEFFERSON CITY - An audit of Gov. Jay Nixon's office released Wednesday highlights exactly where taxpayers' money is going.

The auditor's office said the governor's office is using funding from other state agencies to pay for travels costs and staffing, despite a 2012 bill prohibiting that.

Deputy State Auditor Harry Otto said the shifting of expenses have continued.

"In a very strict reading of the statute and what has occurred one can say that that statute has been violated," Otto said.

A total of 14 agencies funded the travel costs and salaries of six employees of Nixon's office, totalling $948,000. The Department of Public Safety paid $85,000 in connection with 49 flights for the governor's office use. Nixon's office also provided salary increases to the six employees which totaled $42,000. Another $732,000 went to expenses for the governor's office and mansion.

Otto said, with respect to traveling, he questions some of the expenditures.

"When we looked at the details, we found that, in some cases, the office waited too late to buy the commercial airline ticket," Otto said . "Also, in some cases, they used the state plane when commercial travel would have been less expensive."

Political science professor Peverill Squire said the numbers are not unusual.

"Auditors tend to look closely at those various expenditures and what the Governor is spending is not uncommon for most governors in other states," Squire said. "Governors tend to hide some of their budget by drafting personnel from other agencies."

 

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