by Jon Schuessler
The first scandal began in 2009 with a federally-written report, signed off by Governor Nixon and secretly distributed among state police agencies. The report profiled “constitutionalists”, supporters of third parties, Ron Paul or gun rights, pro-life believers, and opponents of taxes among many others as possible “militia terrorists”. Two Libertarian highway patrol officers leaked the report.(Click here for the full text of "The Modern Militia Movement" MIAC report)
The Governor went even further in 2011. Under President Bush, and continued under Obama, the federal government created a national form of ID, approved by Congress as the “Real ID Act”. Missouri is one of many states that has refused to participate, making the Real ID Act illegal. Nixon’s office quietly ordered driver’s license bureaus to copy birth certificates in order to be Real ID compliant anyway. His office ordered the same for firearms permits.(Click here for state audit concerning the scanning order)
Nixon also broke laws to siphon money for himself and his office. In 2012, State Auditor Schweich criticized the Governor for illegally withholding funds from the state budget while stealing money from other departments to fund his mansion and office. Nixon’s withholdings made news in 2015, when a group of teenagers from Kansas City travelled to the capitol to make a personal appeal to the Governor for their library, and were instead forcibly removed from the building by his bodyguards.(Click here for the full 2012 Schweich audit)
The biggest money scandal, however, cropped up in a 2013 report by the State Auditor. It involved a plane.
A very, very nice plane.
The Highway Patrol paid $5.6 million to a Wichita-based manufacturer for a King Air 250 airplane. The plane’s brochure states that it has “generous head and shoulder room... Spacious club seating with integrated work tables allows you to get down to business or simply relax and dine with friends.” Governor Nixon’s office approved the purchase, even though it was not open to competitive bidding.
The plane was supposedly for use by all state departments, but Governor Nixon’s office staff used the plane exclusively for themselves during the King Air 250’s first three months of operation. Nixon personally used the airplane 21 times between mid-January and mid-March of 2013 at a cost of $48,000.
What’s more, an audit revealed that the extra plane was completely unneeded, since the state already had five planes which were being under-used. For 113 days in the year 2012, none of those planes were in the air. At no time were all five planes in use.
The only reason to buy the plane, it seems, is because it was more comfortable than the Highway Patrol’s older plane, a King Air 90C.(Click here for Schweich audit of plane purchase by the State Highway Patrol)
After Schweich’s death, Deputy Auditor Otto reviewed the Governor’s office in 2015 and found that Nixon was continuing to live the high life. Among the audit’s findings:
Yet Nixon withheld over $400 million from the state budget that year, which included school and library funds, claiming that money was tight.
One can only wonder why.(Click here for the full 2015 Otto audit)
The notorious “militia” profiling report became public in mid-March of 2009, on the same day that Nixon and the U.S. Secretary of Homeland Security were giving speeches together at a conference in Kansas City. Nixon immediately defended the report, and the value of the "fusion" center that produced it.(Click here for the full text approved by Nixon, the DPS, MHSP and MIAC)
A week later, after mounting criticism, the report was withdrawn from circulation. Nixon then claimed that it was approved without his knowledge of the contents. By early April, the MIAC's top administrator, Lt. Van Godsey, had been replaced.(Click here for the story of withdrawal of the report)
The House placed an amendment in a funding bill to prohibit "profiling", but a lack of definition of the term made it legally unenforceable. Three months later, a committee was formed to investigate MIAC activity. MIAC officials testified that "strategic reports" would not be issued in "the foreseeable future".(Click here for the immediate reaction in the legislature to the report)
In recognition of Nixon’s support for federal “fusion” centers that profile Missourians, President Obama appointed Nixon to his newly-created, ten-man Council of Governors in 2010. As part of the Council, Nixon advises the President on matters of domestic terrorism.(Click here for a press release about the Obama appointment)
As for the Real ID Act, a Stoddard County resident, Eric Griffin, sued when he was denied a gun permit for refusing to have his personal documents scanned. This prompted a House committee to investigate the matter. By July, compliance with the Real ID Act had stopped, and Senate Bill 252 was signed into law, which made scanning of personal documents by the Department of Revenue illegal.(Click here for the October conclusions of the investigative committee)
At first Nixon denied that any data collection was taking place. Later, Nixon claimed that his employees acted without his knowledge. However, a letter from the Department of Homeland Security surfaced in which Secretary Napolitano thanked Gov. Nixon for implementing measures of the Real ID Act.
Nixon maintains that he never read the letter.(Click here to read about Nixon's denial of Real ID compliance)
No state officials were punished for the scanning practice. This caused outrage from certain legislators, who filed three separate articles of impeachment against Nixon. The charges never made it out of committee.(Click here for the impeachment articles related to the Real ID scandal)
Schweich sued Nixon over illegally withholding funds in 2012. The Missouri Supreme Court refused to hear the case. In 2014, the General Assembly put an amendment up for public vote to limit the Governor’s power to withhold funds. The amendment passed.
Although the children from Kansas City never saw the Governor, he did eventually reinstate funding for their library.
The Senate Appropriations Committee railed against Nixon’s purchase approval and use of the King Air 250, but did little else.
A 2015 audit by Deputy Auditor Otto revealed that the Governor continued to use other departments’ money for himself, to the point that his office and mansion overspent their budget by at least $1.9 million and then short-changed other departments. The Governor remains largely silent on the issue.
He did claim that his state-funded $1,300 family float trip was meant to promote Missouri tourism.(Click here for the lawsuit story)
Jon Schuessler is a Volunteer leader in Jefferson County, and the chairman for Missouri Volunteers for Government Reform, a Political Action Committee (PAC) of the Volunteer Movement. Click here to read his bio or contact him.