Missouri Governor Jay Nixon’s office is still paying for its employees and their travel expenses out of the budgets of other state agencies, despite measures taken by the legislature meant to end those practices. That’s one of the findings of the state auditor’s office, in its review of Nixon’s office’s practices from July 2011 through June of 2014.
It also says the governor’s office also paid with taxpayer dollars for a float trip that the auditor says did not appear necessary to the operation of the office.
The report says 14 state agencies funded all or part of the salaries and travel costs for six of the governor’s office and mansion employees, totaling about $948,000. Additionally, the Department of Public Safety paid about $85,000 for 49 flights for governor’s office personnel, and several state agencies paid other costs for the governor’s office and mansion adding up to about $732,000.
$374,960 of that came from the Department of Economic Development.
The auditor’s office was critical of this practice the last time it reviewed Nixon’s office, and the state legislature in 2012 added wording to the enacting language of the state budget meant to prevent most state agencies from paying for governor’s office staff or travel expenses.
The auditor’s office found that in August, 2011, Governor Nixon, First Lady Georganne Nixon, and four employees of the Governor’s Office went on a 1-day float trip costing at least $1,300. It says the Deputy Chief of Staff said the purpose of the trip was to promote tourism, but the auditor’s office says there was no documentation supporting the business purpose of the trip and questions whether it was an effective means of marketing Missouri.
To the section of the audit regarding travel, which included the float trip, the governor’s office responded, “The office follows state travel policy. On occasion, circumstances require some deviations from the policy, but efforts to ensure the most cost-effective means are implemented. The office will continue to ensure that such instances are appropriately handled.”
The audit says state laws regarding the use of state resources by the governor’s office for political and personal purposes are “ambiguous and contradictory,” and called on the office to push for legislation clarifying them. It also suggested the office quit the use of state resources for anything other than state business either permanently or until the laws are clarified.
The audit found that some governor’s office employees received raises beyond those received by other state employees, and suggested the governor’s office quit that practice. It also calls on the governor’s office to develop a written employee manual; that same recommendation was made in the previous audit.
The audit says capital asset records for the governor’s office and the mansion are “incomplete and inaccurate,” and said annual physical inventories of mansion assets have not been performed. It also says the costs of mansion events sponsored by outside entities are not compared to the amounts billed, and says the governor’s office did not document information to support the business purposes and costs of food served at events hosted by the governor, as required by state policy.
See the complete audit report at the State Auditor’s website.