UPDATE: Lt. Gov Kinder Caught Up in Audit
JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (KMOX/AP) Missouri Lt. Gov. Peter Kinder may have had a conflict of interest by serving as chairman of both the state Tourism Commission and a nonprofit group that put on the Tour of Missouri bicycle race, according to a state audit released Wednesday.
The audit cited Kinder’s dual roles as one of several potential conflicts of interest involving the commission that decides how to spend millions of dollars each year marketing Missouri to visitors and vacationers. Deputy Auditor Harry Otto says this created a possible conflict of interest.
“In wearing that hat of one board, you vote to send dollars over to the other organization that is a potential conflict. It should have been disclosed and a refusal should have occurred.”
The audit also criticized the Tourism Division’s budgeting practices and said it lacks performance measurements needed to determine whether advertising efforts are meeting goals.
The audit gave the Division of Tourism a “fair” rating, its second lowest category on a scale ranging from poor to excellent.
Missouri Tourism Director Katie Steele Danner said the agency is working to implement many of the auditor’s recommendations and plans to present a proposed conflict of interest policy to the Tourism Commission at its Oct. 13 meeting.
“There shouldn’t be any self-dealing activity in this particular case, I think the audit speaks for itself and it would be prudent for us to have a conflict of interest policy,” Danner told The Associated Press.
In a press release, Kinder’s office called this “an accidental failure.” And noted that Kinder had no financial stake in the non-profit.
The audit comes as Kinder, a Republican, weighs whether to go ahead with a planned challenge of Democratic Gov. Jay Nixon in the 2012 elections. The Tour of Missouri bicycle race, which attracted some of the top professional cyclists from around the world, has been a point of contention between the two officeholders. Kinder was the race’s most public supporter since it began in 2007. But Nixon’s administration, citing tight state finances, pulled the plug on state funding for the 2010 race, forcing its cancellation. The race has not returned since then.