Kinder Pays Remaining Travel Balance
JEFFERSON CITY - Deputy State Auditor Harry Otto said in a news conference Wednesday that Missouri Lieutenant Governor, Peter Kinder has paid off the state for the remainder of his travel expenses. Expenses some say he acquired when not on official state business. The charges had all been made since Kinder took office in 2005.
Otto said Kinder paid the state $1,888.63 on Tuesday to cover expenses he missed when he paid the state $52,320 in April. The previous payment had been calculated by Kinder's office. The auditor's office conducted an investigation into the matter, and discovered Kinder actually owed the state about two thousand extra dollars.
The news conference announced the results of the state auditor's investigation into Kinder's travel reimbursements. Otto announced that it was difficult to decipher Kinder's calendar. The calendar has more than 18,000 entries and they are not coded as business or personal. Otto said the only way investigators would know is by asking Kinder directly. The auditor's office has the calendar, but will likley not release it to the media or the public due to the sushine law.
Part of the audit reads "Documentation was not always complete or accurate as to the specifics of your scheduled events, such as the purpose of the event and a determination whether the event was for official or state business."We don't know whether he went to the Lion's Club for political reasons, for business reasons, or because he had friends in the Lion;s club."
Otto compared the situation to a politician speaking at a Lion's Club "
The deputy auditor oversaw the investigation because State Auditor Tom Schweich had a conflict of interest, having received a campaign contribution from Kinder. Otto himself donated $200 to Kinder's campaign seven years ago. The auditor's office now believes Kinder has paid off all his lodging expenses.
The Missouri Democratic Party immediately criticized the reports findings in a news release that said, "There's a reason Peter Kinder would rather hide public documents than allow Missourians to see what he does all day. Peter Kinder doesn't want Missourians to to know how much time he spends living the good life and having fun instead of serving the taxpayers. The question remains: what exactly is Peter Kinder doing all day while taxpayers pay for his fancy hotels and expensive meals? "
Kinder's travel controversy began in April after the St. Louis Post Dispatch reported that Kinder billed the state of Missouri for numerous hotel stays not related to state business. The auditor's office said it considers the case is closed. Kinder still insists that he did not use state funds inappropriately, he says he paid off the money "to resolve any and all outstanding questions."
Check here for a link to the auditor's report.