It’s been a rough couple of weeks for Lt. Gov. Peter Kinder. Kinder - who was long thought to be the Republican standard-bearer for governor next year - has had to answer allegations from St. Louis bartender Tammy Chapman. In an article published in the Riverfront Times, Chapman among other things accused Kinder of being aggressive with her when she was a stripper at a Sauget club in the 1990s. She also said that Kinder asked her to move into a condo paid for with campaign dollars when the ran into each other earlier this year at a St. Louis City bar. In a round of media interviews last week, Kinder denied some of Chapman’s allegations. He did say that he visited the strip clubs east of the Mississippi River numerous times in the 1990s. In any case, the controversy has caused at least one major donor to pull support from Kinder. And it’s caused national publications such as Hotline On Call and the Washington Post to question whether Kinder has any chance to become governor. Here’s a snippet from a Washington Post blog post: Yet [Kinder] has survived — for now — in part because of a strong Democratic governor and a weak field of other potential candidates. (Kinder has yet to formally announce his campaign but is expected to do so in September.) Some Republicans are saying that Kinder will have to drop his ambitions sooner or later. A major donor withdrew his support last week; a Springfield GOP committeeman emailed local Republicans saying the party needed to find a new candidate. But the state party is standing behind Kinder, and no primary challengers have emerged. Missouri Republicans pushed back forcefully on a Politico report that suggested GOP support for Kinder was faltering.
It’s been a rough couple of weeks for Lt. Gov. Peter Kinder.
Kinder - who was long thought to be the Republican standard-bearer for governor next year - has had to answer allegations from St. Louis bartender Tammy Chapman. In an article published in the Riverfront Times, Chapman among other things accused Kinder of being aggressive with her when she was a stripper at a Sauget club in the 1990s.
She also said that Kinder asked her to move into a condo paid for with campaign dollars when the ran into each other earlier this year at a St. Louis City bar.
In a round of media interviews last week, Kinder denied some of Chapman’s allegations. He did say that he visited the strip clubs east of the Mississippi River numerous times in the 1990s.
In any case, the controversy has caused at least one major donor to pull support from Kinder. And it’s caused national publications such as Hotline On Call and the Washington Post to question whether Kinder has any chance to become governor.
Here’s a snippet from a Washington Post blog post:
Yet [Kinder] has survived — for now — in part because of a strong Democratic governor and a weak field of other potential candidates. (Kinder has yet to formally announce his campaign but is expected to do so in September.)
Some Republicans are saying that Kinder will have to drop his ambitions sooner or later. A major donor withdrew his support last week; a Springfield GOP committeeman emailed local Republicans saying the party needed to find a new candidate.
But the state party is standing behind Kinder, and no primary challengers have emerged. Missouri Republicans pushed back forcefully on a Politico report that suggested GOP support for Kinder was faltering.
The Associated Press reports that Gov. Jay Nixon nearly doubled up Lt. Gov. Peter Kinder - his potential rival in the 2012 gubernatorial race - in fundraising.
Nixon ended up raising about $1.7 million and has a little over $2 million of cash on hand. Kinder raised roughly $770,000 and has over $900,000 of cash on hand.
“The early financial support is critical, but the real reason that Jay Nixon is in a strong position to be re-elected is the tough and effective leadership he’s shown as governor during these challenging times,” said Oren Shur, who is Nixon’s campaign manager.
Kinder campaign attorney Jared Craighead said Kinder’s fundraising has been strong. He noted that the lieutenant governor also has made significant donations to other Republican candidates.
“The report demonstrates the strong support for the lieutenant governor and that whatever he chooses to do in the future, he is going to be successful and have the resources he needs to be successful,” Craighead said.
Lt. Gov. Peter Kinder’s office just released a statement about Attorney General Chris Koster’s amicus brief arguing the individual mandate in the federal health care bill is unconstitutional.
In short, Kinder - a Republican who is likely to run for governor next year - panned Koster’s argument that the mandate could be detached from the rest of bill. And he also said Koster should have actually joined the lawsuit in question, as opposed to providing comments.
Here’s part of Kinder’s statement:
“AG Koster fails to recognize what Judge Vinson clearly articulated and ruled, which is that the individual mandate is not severable from the Health Care Act and therefore the entire law is unconstitutional. AG Koster’s amicus brief in the Florida case, while welcome, is a day late and a dollar short. It does not adequately defend the Missouri Health Care Freedom Act or respond to the resolution passed by the Missouri General Assembly.
With the exception of AG Koster now agreeing that the individual mandate is unconstitutional, we are otherwise disappointed in AG Koster’s course of action. His filing of an amicus brief in the Appellate Court hearing the Florida case does not effectively advocate for the interests of Missouri citizens. I continue to urge AG Koster to join the lawsuit that I and other Missouri citizens have filed in federal court in Missouri. This case is the only case in the nation specifically defending the Health Care Freedom Act and rights of Missourians.
It is crucial that leaders of our state are willing to get in the battle for Missourians’ constitutional rights and freedoms, and not just comment from the sidelines.”
This week’s Monday analysis from the Associated Press focuses on how Gov. Jay Nixon and Lt. Gov. Peter Kinder have similar political problems with travel.
From the article:
Missouri Lt. Gov. Peter Kinder suddenly has a lot more in common with Gov. Jay Nixon — and that could make Kinder’s likely challenge of Nixon a bit more complicated in the 2012 elections.What Missouri’s top two executives share is some heavy baggage when it comes to their travel at taxpayers’ expense. Nixon, a Democrat, has come under criticism for billing the cost of his frequent airplane flights to state agencies instead of his own office — essentially passing the buck to other parts of government at the very time he has been telling government to cut costs. That could have made for a compelling commercial by a political opponent.
But Kinder, a Republican, now also has come under criticism for charging taxpayers for his frequent hotel stays, many of them at posh places in the St. Louis area, albeit at a discounted government rate.
The article also noted how Kinder’s decision to reimburse the state was similar to when Nixon paid back roughly $47,000 for his use of state car when he was campaigning for governor.
MissouriNet’s Bob Priddy reports that Lt. Gov. Peter Kinder will reimburse the state over $35,000 for hotel bills.
Kinder says two state audits signed by now-Democrat State Chairman Susan Montee raised no questions about his travels or the billings.
He says he will ask the Office of Administration to send half of his reimbursement to the Big Brothers/Big Sisers of Eastern Missouri Amaci mentoring program and to use the other half for a dropout prevention program.
One interesting thing worth noting is Kinder’s rationale for reimbursement - which according to St. Louis Post-Dispatch reporter Rebecca Berg was to “move this nimbus off the horizon, and let’s get to the real issues that concern this state.” It looks awfully similar to then-Attorney General Jay Nixon’s rationale for repaying the state for use of the state car:
Nixon’s campaign paid the state $47,021.91 on Friday, said spokesman Oren Shur. That includes $27,082.24 as reimbursement for the time attorney general’s staff members spent serving as his security aides on political trips and $19,939.67 to compensate for political mileage on the state car, Shur said.
“This is a voluntary move to allow the focus of this race to return to the issues that matter most, like fixing our state’s health care crisis and making college more affordable,” Shur said. “Now Missourians are waiting for Matt Blunt to do the same and reimburse the state for all the taxpayer money he spends for his security at political events.”
Lt. Gov. Peter Kinder appeared on a number of St. Louis talk shows Monday to discuss the St. Louis Post-Dispatch’s article detailing his taxpayer-reimbursement for hotels and meals.
In addition to going on Jamie Allman’s show and Dana Loesch’s show on NewsTalk 97.1, Kinder appeared on Mark Reardon’s afternoon program on KMOX. You can listen to Reardon’s interview by clicking the link above.
The pushback from Kinder comes as state and national Democrats are turning up the heat, so to speak. The Missouri Democratic Party sent out a press release today demanding Kinder release all records and reimburse taxpayers for “non-official” events, while the Democratic Governors Association sent out a release where its executive director stated the story raises “serious questions about his credibility with Missouri voters and his potential candidacy for Governor.”
In addition to taking to the airwaves, Kinder wrote a preemptive op-ed in the St. Louis Business Journal defending his travel to St. Louis.
Post-Dispatch reporter Jake Wagman reports today on Lt. Gov. Peter Kinder’s extensive travels to St. Louis.
Of note is how many times the Republican statewide official received taxpayer-reimbursement for staying in hotels:
The state’s No. 2 official, who has a home in Cape Girardeau and an office in Jefferson City, has grown accustomed to staying at luxury hotels in St. Louis - and letting taxpayers pick up the tab.
Since 2006, Kinder has billed the state for an average of more than two months per year at hotels in the St. Louis area.
Even with a discounted government rate, Kinder has charged taxpayers a total of $35,050 for at least 329 nights at hotels in St. Louis and St. Louis County during that time period. That includes 236 nights at the Chase and 42 nights at the downtown Four Seasons, his most frequented hotels.
The price tag doesn’t include the cost of meals on those trips or the hotel and meal cost for dozens of trips elsewhere in the state that Kinder has taken at taxpayer expense.
Gov. Jay Nixon said Missouri will pursue roughly $1 billion for rail projects, including $600 million to prepare for a “high-speed” rail line across the Show Me State.
In a press release, the governor announced a two-tiered plan to procure federal rail money. The first part seek federal money to bolster speeds and schedule reliability along existing rail lines. That would include, according to the release, “new sidings, mainlines, bridges, removal of grade crossings, train cars, and other equipment and infrastructure to enable Amtrak trains traveling between St. Louis and Kansas City” to travel at greater speeds. The second part would go toward building a “separate, dedicated high-speed line across Missouri, and for purchasing necessary properties.”
Missouri is seeking roughly $373 million in federal money for the first part of plan and about $600 million for the second part, according to the release.
While the effort to bolster rail infrastructure has drawn criticism from the governor’s likely 2012 rival - Lt. Gov. Peter Kinder - Nixon has been touting federal rail projects for some time. For instance, the release notes that Nixon has been working with Illinois in the development of a “high-speed” rail line from St. Louis to Chicago.
“The design, planning and construction of this project would create high-paying jobs in communities across Missouri over the next several years, and provide the necessary resources to prepare for construction of a dedicated high-speed passenger line,” Nixon said in a statement. “It would be a transformative step for Missouri, both in terms of the jobs created and in developing this mode of transportation between our state’s two largest metropolitan areas and the cities along the route, including the state capital.”
The release stated that the Missouri Department of Transportation will submit the application to the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Railroad Administration.
ADDENDUM: Jo Mannies of the St. Louis Beacon reported that Nixon is going after money that was rejected by Florida Gov. Rick Scott:
Nixon stopped by Amtrak’s train station in downtown Kirkwood this morning to announce that his office was submitting an application to snag almost $1 billion in high-speed rail money that his Florida counterpart, Gov. Rick Scott, has rejected.
Nixon said the grant would require less than $5 million in state matching funds, and could give a boost to hopes of a faster rail route between St. Louis and Kansas City.
“I think it’s a transformational opportunity,” the governor said. “It’s a one-time opportunity that we’re not going to let pass by.”
Over on the other side of the Mississippi River, the wheels are turning for the construction of a “high-speed rail” line going across the state of Illinois.
That will impact Missouri, because the rail line is supposed to stretch from St. Louis to Chicago. More from the St. Louis Post-Dispatch’s Kevin McDermont:
The latest phase of the long-debated project will begin construction April 5, with new rail track between Alton and the Mississippi River, and between Dwight and Lincoln, as well as installation of a modernized signal system between Dwight and Alton.
The ultimate goal is a 110 mph Chicago-to-St. Louis line, with some spans in northern Illinois to be ready for that speed by early as next year. Part of project is a feasibility study about the possibility of an eventual 220 mph line in Illinois.
In a statement, Quinn’s office touted what it said will be “6,200 direct and indirect jobs” from the latest construction phase, saying it will “move Illinois one step closer to faster trains and improved service along its signature high-speed route.”
While Gov. Jay Nixon has been a supporter of the St. Louis-to-Chicago rail project,
his likely 2012 opponent - Lt. Gov. Peter Kinder - criticized the plan late last month in a speech to St. Louis County Republicans.
Jo Mannies at the St. Louis Beacon writes Monday about a letter sent by three GOP officials to Attorney General Chris Koster.
The subject? The federal health care bill:
The three top Republicans in Jefferson City — Lt. Gov. Peter Kinder, House Speaker Steve Tilley and Senate President Pro Tem Rob Mayer — are once again pressuring Missouri Attorney General Chris Koster, a Democrat, to take action regarding the federal health insurance changes that are gradually going into effect.
Those changes, approved by Congress, were signed by President Barack Obama a year ago this Wednesday.
The Republican trio (from left, Mayer, Tilley and Kinder) announced today that they signed a letter sent to Koster late last week that underscored their frustration with the attorney general (who switched parties in 2007) and his apparent refusal, so far, to join any of the lawsuits challenging the federal law, which began going into effect Jan. 1.
“The time for artful dodging is over,” the trio wrote, referring to Koster’s reluctance to even publicly discuss the matter.
I caught up with Lt. Gov. Peter Kinder on Saturday right before he spoke to St. Louis County Lincoln Days. I asked him about the importance of the St. Louis region to Republicans, as well as what the GOPers in St. Louis County need to do in 2012.
I also asked about the timetable for his next statewide campaign. Kinder is widely expected to run against Gov. Jay Nixon in 2012.
Click on the audio clip above to hear the interview.