Missouri Lt. Gov. Peter Kinder (R) has had taxpayers foot the bill for 329 nights at hotels and casinos in St. Louis and St. Louis County since 2006 to “attend society balls, baseball games and political events, even though Missouri guidelines state that taxpayer-funded travel must be ‘essential’ for state business,” the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported this weekend.
Kinder — who is expected to run for governor next year — hung up on the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reporter who called for an interview on the story. In a four-page statement to the newspaper, his office acknowledged that Kinder “may schedule or fit meetings around social events he attends in his role as lieutenant governor or around personal social events that on rare occasion appear on his calendar.” But Democrats are on the attack.
“It’s unconscionable that Peter Kinder, whose campaign slogan is “‘Every Dollar Counts,’ believes that Missouri taxpayer dollars should finance his out-of-touch lifestyle,” Colm O’Comartun, executive director of the Democratic Governors Association, said in a statement. “Needless to say, these revelations raise serious questions about his credibility with Missouri voters and his potential candidacy for Governor.”
The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported that:
- Kinder’s taxpayer-funded hotel stays dwarf his predecessor’s, and they are far above those of other statewide elected officials.
- Kinder billed the state for hotel stays and meals when he came to St. Louis to attend society balls, baseball games and political events, even though Missouri guidelines state that taxpayer-funded travel must be “essential” for state business.
- Kinder often listed no official reason on his expense reports for billing taxpayers for nights at the Chase or Four Seasons.
The Missouri Democratic Party is calling on Kinder to “reimburse the state for all expenses relating to non-official events and to release all public documents relating to these 329 trips to St. Louis, including the schedule of events attended on each day,” the DGA said.