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Nixon spends $400,000 flying on state plane

By   /   February 18, 2011  /   News  /   1 Comment

It has cost taxpayers nearly $400,000 to fly Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon around the state during his first two years in office as governor, with different state agencies picking up the tab, according to new documentation.

Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon at State of the State last month

Missouri House Budget Chairman Ryan Silvey confirmed to Missouri Watchdog late Friday that he received the spreadsheet detailing the flying costs from the Missouri Office of Administration this week.

The Republican from Kansas City said that he requested the documentation around a month ago as part of an effort to prohibit the governor from using funds from other departments for travel expenses.

Nixon was criticized for having other agencies pay for his flights in an audit of the Missouri Department of Mental Health by a fellow Democrat in December.

“These funding practices distort the actual costs of operating DMH and the governor’s office,” according to the audit report by former Missouri Auditor Susan Montee. She is now chair of the Missouri Democratic Party.

Last month, Missouri Auditor Tom Schweich, a Republican who won in the November election running against Montee, said that he would examine Nixon’s travel expenses as part of a routine audit of the governor’s office.

The last flight paid by the governor’s office was on Jan. 31, 2009, when Nixon flew to survey ice damage.

Departments charged for flying include Missouri Department of Economic Development, Missouri Department of Health & Senior Services, Missouri Department of Social Services, and Missouri Department of Agriculture.

Others include Missouri Department of Insurance, Missouri Department of Labor & Industrial Relations, Missouri Department of Public Safety, Missouri Department of Revenue, and Missouri Department of Natural Resources.

Nixon said during a press conference in January in St. Louis that he thought it was fair for other state agencies to pay for his flights around Missouri when he was travelling to promote a particular department or program.

By Brian R. Hookbrhook@missouriwatchdog.org, (314) 482-7944

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Brian formerly served as staff reporter for Watchdog.org.