Jefferson City, Mo.—As Peter Kinder welcomes Texas Governor Rick Perry to Missouri for a fundraiser tonight, Kinder draws attention to their shared tendency for mismanaging public funds and living extravagantly at the expense of taxpayers.Now Todd Akin on the other hand, he just likes to bill taxpayers for his tea party rallies.
“Peter Kinder and Rick Perry are two undeclared candidates who think they deserve promotions, but here's the biggest difference: you can find Republicans who actually want Rick Perry to run,” said Caitlin Legacki, Missouri Democratic Party spokeswoman. “Peter Kinder's been nothing short of an embarrassment, still fumbling to explain why he hangs out at five-star hotels and sends the bill to taxpayers.”
Kinder, who repaid taxpayers more than $52,000 after filing inappropriate reimbursements to attend political and personal events, is still being audited by State Auditor (and Kinder campaign beneficiary) Tom Schweich. Will Schweich or any staff from the Auditor’s office attend the Kinder fundraiser tonight?
Gov. Rick Perry and Lt. Gov Peter Kinder have more in common than you might think. Specifically, a penchant for living the high life on the taxpayer's dime.
Meanwhile, questions remain about Peter Kinder’s ongoing audit:
- Texas Faced a $27 Billion Shortfall for Fiscal 2012. Texas faced a $27 billion shortfall for fiscal 2012, among the worst in the nation. [Austin American Statesman, 6/15/11]
- Perry Lives in $9,000 Per Month Mansion At Taxpayer Expense. Since 2007, Gov. Perry has charged taxpayers to live in a swank $9,000-per-month home in a gated community outside Austin. Texas taxpayers have been forced to foot the bill for more than $600,000 in rent and housing-related expenses for the Governor. [Austin American Statesman, 10/16/10; AP, 5/17/10]
- During Tight Budget Times, Gov. Perry Spares No Expense for Life of Luxury. As reported by the AP, “it costs more than $10,000 a month in rent, utilities and upkeep to house Perry in a five-bedroom, seven-bath mansion that has pecan-wood floors, a gourmet kitchen and three dining rooms… Perry's state-paid expenses at the home include $18,000 for "consumables" such as household supplies and cleaning products, $1,001.46 in window coverings from upscale retailer Neiman Marcus, a $1,000 "emergency repair" of the governor's filtered ice machine, a $700 clothes rack, and a little over $70 for a two year subscription to Food & Wine Magazine.” [AP, 5/17/10]
Deputy State Auditor Harry Otto and Schweich have already gone out of their way to manage expectations about the veracity and integrity of their “audit,” but here’s what we can expect:
- Otto Will Have Access to the Calendars. Otto said the auditor's office has the technical experts needed to deal with any technical issues, and access the calendars. The auditor's office also plans to make its findings public -- without charge. [St. Louis Beacon, 4/28/11]
- Otto Will Not Review Appropriateness of Kinder’s Stays. Deputy Auditor Harry Otto said the review will focus primarily on Kinder’s math and methodology in determining his payment — not on whether each reimbursement Kinder had received for lodging, meals or travel was appropriate based on the breakdown of official, political or personal functions he attended. “We don’t intend to drill into a calendar and make a determination with respect to whether a trip was 82.5 percent state and 17.5 percent non-state business,” Otto said. Rather, he added, “We want to see the supporting documents that justify the calculation that office has made.” [AP, 4/28/11]
- Otto Will Not Delve Deeply into Whether Trips Were Personal or State Business. Otto said the audit would not delve too deeply into examining whether or not trips were for personal or state business purposes, unless contradictions were obvious. “A statewide elected official has some discretion with respect to determining what or what is not in the best of interest of the state government when it comes to traveling,” Otto said. “We don’t second guess every trip.” [Missouri News Horizon, 4/28/11]
- Otto Will Not Evaluate Whether Kinder Mixed Political & Personal. The deputy auditor assigned to the inquiry, Harry Otto, said the focus is not whether Kinder mixed official business and political activity. Instead, "we want to see the supporting documents that justify the calculations that were made," Otto said. But, Otto said, if auditors notice a trip that was overtly personal or political, "we'll make the appropriate adjustments." It's also possible, the auditor's office said, that the review could find Kinder paid too much, in which case he could get money back. [St. Louis Post Dispatch, 4/28/11]
- But We Know Kinder Billed Taxpayers While Attending Personal & Political Events. As reported by the Post Dispatch, “Kinder billed the state for hotel stays and meals when he came to St. Louis to attend society balls, baseball games and political events” and “often listed no official reason on his expense reports for billing taxpayers for nights at the Chase or Four Seasons.” [St. Louis Post Dispatch, 4/3/11]
- And the St. Louis Stays May Only Be The Tip of the Iceberg: Earlier this month, the Kansas City Star raised new questions about Kinder’s use of the Kansas City Intercontinental Hotel at “taxpayer expense” after raising over $9,000 for his campaign and attending a fundraiser with Republican strategist Karl Rove. As reported by Star, “the bill for Kinder’s three-day stay at the Intercontinental may have exceeded the limits on government lodging reimbursement.” [Kansas City Star, 4/7/11]
- What About Meals Associated with Politics/Personal Travel? Kinder told the press that the $52,320 check he wrote last month reflected all of the money Kinder was reimbursed by the state for in-state travel. But according to public records, Kinder has been reimbursed for over $11,000 in meal costs since 2006. An audit is needed to confirm these costs were associated with official state business. [St. Louis Post Dispatch, 4/26/11; Missouri Accountability Portal, Accessed 4/5/11]
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