by Jon Schuessler
On a cold winter day in late February, Peter Kinder told his fellow Republicans in the state legislature that he was going broke. “Gradual impoverishment” is the phrase he used to describe the distress of maintaining a $186,000 home in Cape Girardeau as well as a home in Jefferson City, all on a supposedly meager $86,000 salary.
After ten years as Lieutenant Governor, Mr. Kinder wanted a bonus.
Specifically, he was asking for the same perks that legislators get: $103 a day. The difference was that he wanted the perks all year round, while legislators only get them for the five months that they are in session. Depending on how the stipend was awarded, Kinder would get a pay raise between $10,000 - $30,000 a year.
That would put his pay at over double the amount that an average Missouri household earns in a year; three times the average pay of first-year teachers; and nearly four times the average pay of state workers.
I wonder if Mr. Kinder truly understands the word “impoverishment”. Or the word “greedy”. Or “gall”.
If you were wondering, Peter Kinder isn’t married. He has no children. His $86,000 salary is for himself.
That doesn’t count the meals and gifts he gets from lobbyists. Nor does it count the perks of billing the state for “job-related” expenses. Like any good executive, Kinder has made ample use of his vaguely-defined responsibilities and powers for the sake of personal gain and comfort.
In 2011, the Post-Dispatch published an attack article exposing Kinder’s travel habits. Apparently, he’d been charging the state to eat at exclusive restaurants and stay in St. Louis’ best hotels for 100 days out the year over the last three years. The bill was at least $35,050.
The reasons for Kinder’s travels were even more distressing – not matters of state, but speaking at events hosted by his campaign contributors, attending concerts, sports games and society balls, giving radio interviews, and cutting ribbons at receptions. In other words, he was trying to be popular while having a good time, and then putting it on the state’s tab.
This, from a man who campaigned in 2004 with the slogan “Every Dollar Counts”.(Click here for criticism of Kinder's meal and travel expenses)
Shortly after the Post-Dispatch article was published, Kinder – who harbored aspirations to be governor – refunded $53,792 to the state for lodging and meals, as calculated by the State Auditor’s office.
Kinder’s request for a housing and meal allowance is still under consideration by the Senate Appropriations Committee.
Peter Kinder has announced that he is campaigning for the Republican nomination for governor in 2016.(Click here for 2013 Otto audit of Kinder's expenses)
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.