Lt. Gov. Peter Kinder pays back more expenses after state audit

Wednesday, July 6, 2011 | 10:58 a.m. CDT; updated 12:12 p.m. CDT, Wednesday, July 6, 2011

JEFFERSON CITY — Missouri Lt. Gov. Peter Kinder paid the state an additional $1,889 to cover his in-state hotel expenses after an auditor's review released Wednesday determined that he failed to account for some travel expenses when he previously repaid the state $52,300.

The state Office of Administration confirmed Kinder made the additional payment and released a copy of a brief letter in which Kinder indicated the extra money was intended to cover in-state lodging expenses he had received from the state. That came shortly before the auditor's office released its review of Kinder's travel reimbursements.

The Republican lieutenant governor, who is expected to challenge Democratic Gov. Jay Nixon in the 2012 elections, wrote an initial check to the state in April after the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported that he had spent hundreds of nights at St. Louis hotels at taxpayer expense. The newspaper reported that some of those hotel stays occurred while Kinder attended sporting events, society galas and a tea party rally, and that some of Kinder's expense reports listed no official reason for his stays.

Kinder has said all of his hotel stays were related to official events, even if he also attended personal or political functions after the end of his official working day.

When Kinder made his original $52,300 payment, his campaign attorney Jared Craighead said it roughly equaled the amount of Kinder's in-state lodging expenses but was intended to cover any expense reimbursements — including those for lodging, meals and travel — that political opponents might find objectionable.

The auditor's office said Wednesday that Kinder's original payment missed $1,473 of in-state lodging expenses that had been classified as other types of costs due a computer coding error. It said Kinder's payment also failed to account for $416 in lodging reimbursements he had received from state agencies other than the lieutenant governor's office.

The review also noted that Kinder had received $10,893 in reimbursements for meals.

It drew no conclusions about whether Kinder's expenses were for appropriate official state business.

The review of Kinder's travel reimbursements was led by the Deputy Auditor Harry Otto. Republican State Auditor Tom Schweich recused himself from decisions involving Kinder because Schweich received $220,000 from Kinder during his campaign for auditor.

Otto has compared the review to one conducted of then-Attorney General Nixon's travel expenses by former Democratic Auditor Susan Montee. That review occurred after Nixon paid the state $47,000 in 2007 for using a state vehicle and employees for political purposes. Nixon's gubernatorial campaign paid the state an additional $8,618 after the auditor's review determined the original amount was insufficient.

Montee conducted the review upon Nixon's request. But Kinder did not request an auditor's review of his payment.

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