Blunt reports free out-of-state trips

Thursday, May 3, 2007 | 12:00 a.m. CDT; updated 9:41 a.m. CDT, Tuesday, July 22, 2008

JEFFERSON CITY — Gov. Matt Blunt received nearly $21,500 in free out-of-state travel last year for trade missions, conferences and other business.

Much of the tab was covered by a nonprofit group that finances government economic development efforts. Various private firms also chipped in, as did the federal government.

Missouri politicians are required to report out-of-state travel and lodging expenses paid for by third parties. Reports were due Tuesday.

Blunt’s non-Missouri travel expenses were more than those of any other incumbent or candidate for statewide offices.

“Much of this was in representation of the state of Missouri,” Blunt spokeswoman Jessica Robinson said Wednesday.

His likely Democratic gubernatorial opponent, Attorney General Jay Nixon, reported no out-of-state travel paid for by third parties.

The Hawthorn Foundation, a nonprofit group that finances government economic development efforts, covered most of the roughly $10,000 in costs for Blunt’s trade trip to Europe, a biotechnology trade show in Chicago and a Japanese Chamber of Commerce event in New Jersey.

The U.S. Department of Defense flew Blunt to Iraq and Afghanistan last May to visit Missouri troops, which Blunt valued at $6,000.

AT&T Inc. spent more than $1,400 to fly the governor to San Antonio last October. The company announced in April that its headquarters would be in St. Louis.

KCC Construction Inc., of Springfield, paid to fly Blunt back from a Republican Gov­ernors Association event in South Dakota to Perryville to view storm damage last September.

Republican Lt. Gov. Peter Kinder reported free out-of-state travel of more than $11,700 last year. That included a trade trip to China and a performance of the St. Louis Symphony in New York, both funded by the Hawthorn ­Foundation, and a Mexico conference paid for by the Republican State Legislative Committee of Washington, D.C. Kinder also attended conferences in Phoenix and Palm Beach, Fla., paid for by the Horowitz center.

Democratic Secretary of State Robin Carnahan reported that Aspen Rodel Fellowship paid about $1,800 for her to attend a conference in New Orleans and that the Democratic Leadership Council picked up her tab of nearly $1,700 for a conference in Boston.

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