ST. LOUIS–(KMOX)–Still stinging from a Post-Dispatch weekend investigation that questioned his taxpayer-funded hotel bills, Missouri Lt. Governor Peter Kinder is lashing out at the newspaper and the Governor.
The Post-Dispatch investigation found Kinder had billed taxpayers for $35,000 in hotel bills to attend events that included “sporting events, charity balls, Tea Party rallies and the wedding of a political friend.”
Under state regulation, the Post Dispatch reported, officials can only bill the public for travel that is “essential” to state government.
Kinder, a Republican, tells KMOX that all his trips were billable to taxpayers — but he stopped short of calling them “essential.”
“In every case I had official business that justified these stays,” Kinder said.
Kinder accused the Post-Dispatch and reporter Jake Wagman of “doing a hit piece.”
Post Dispatch Editor Arnie Robbins issued a statement:
“We think our reporting was fair and balanced, and that readers can draw their own conclusions as to whether Mr. Kinder’s large number of hotel stays were essential to his official duties. We make no apologies for holding our public officials accountable, no matter their party affiliation.”
In an interview on the Mark Reardon show on KMOX, Kinder also sought to give context to his hotel bills by pointing to Missouri Democratic Governor Nixon’s travel expenses in the state airplane.
“We just got news of a Sunshine request done of the Highway Patrol,” Kinder said, “that in the first two months of this year, Governor Nixon’s travel totalled over $33,000. That’s almost as much in January and February as my six year total of travel.”
Kinder says his travel expenses were reviewed by two Missouri State audits that raised “none of these issues.”