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The following op-ed will appear in the
Friday, April 1, 2011 edition of the St. Louis Business Journal.
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From Lt. Gov. Peter
Kinder: "For my enduring commitment to St. Louis, I make no
I recently learned of an article
scheduled to be published this weekend in the Post-Dispatch regarding
my travel as Lt. Governor. I write today so that constituents may be
clear about where I stand on elected officials’ waste and abuse of
taxpayer money. Over my 19 years in public office, I have worked
tirelessly to fight excessive spending in government. This waste was
pervasive when I came into office and, as we have seen in recent
events, is still poisoning Missouri’s government.
Over the last six years, I have spent
280 nights at hotels in the St. Louis region for my official work as
Lieutenant Governor. I was almost always charged the standard
government rate, currently $105 per night, ranging from $98 to $111. I
have been told that the Post-Dispatch is focusing on the name of hotels
at which I have stayed, mainly the Chase Park Plaza and occasionally
the Four Seasons, and not the rate.
What readers should know is that many St. Louis hotels, including the
Sheraton, Westin and Hampton Inn, often charge a government rate higher
than the Chase and other hotels
where I stayed.
I have spent much time in Metropolitan
St. Louis over the last decade and have come to know the community and
its leadership. Regardless of political affiliations, local taxpayers
have shown their sincere appreciation at having a state official at
their banquets, meetings, groundbreakings, and ceremonies. The invoices
my office sent to Post-Dispatch writer Jake Wagman, in response to his
Sunshine Request, reflect my consistent
presence in this region.
My travel has been twice audited in the
past six years, both by a Democratic Auditor. The first was in 2007.
The second audit was last year and it was published December of 2010.
Both audits gave my office a clean bill of health and neither
questioned my hotel expenses or billing.
As Lt. Governor, I have continued to
cut my budget and return unspent money to the state every year.
Further, I am the only statewide elected official who voluntarily
offered a cut in my own office budget last year. I am a full-time Lt.
Governor living off the statutory salary. Unlike most of my
predecessors, I have renounced outside income for the duration of my
tenure in office. I travel the state
almost exclusively by car. This
includes my weekly drive home to Cape Girardeau, through St.
Four years ago, on February 17, 2007,
in an editorial titled, “A Kinder Tax Break,” the St. Louis Post
Dispatch stated the following about my service to St. Louis and
“Mr. Kinder, a Republican from Cape
Girardeau, is a rare bird in state politics: a rural politician with a
genuine interest in urban problems and a fondness for St. Louis in
particular. He bridges the
rural-urban split that so often poisons
state politics and stalls development.
“On this issue, he also spans party
lines. His idea has the support of Mayor Francis Slay and Mike Jones,
executive assistant to St. Louis County Executive Charlie Dooley. All
three are Democrats. If more
politicians were able to look beyond geographic and party boundaries to
try to solve problems, Missouri would be a more prosperous place.”
It seems times have changed for the
Post-Dispatch. However, I have not changed. I have opposed waste
and excessive government spending since my first days as an elected
official and will continue to do so. For my enduring commitment to St.
Louis, now in its second decade, I make no apology.