JEFFERSON CITY | Gov. Jay Nixon spent $1.7 million more than his office was allowed over the past several years by shifting expenses to other state agencies, according to an audit released Wednesday.
From January 2009 to June 2011, Nixon’s office would have overspent its budget had other agencies not picked up the tab, Republican state Auditor Tom Schweich said Wednesday.
The practice continued even after legislators last year added provisions in the budget to prohibit state agencies from paying for the travel or staffing costs of the governor’s office or other statewide officeholders.
Even though he is a Republican and Nixon is a Democrat running for re-election this year, Schweich said politics have nothing to do with his audit’s conclusions.
“This is not a partisan issue, this is an accounting issue” Schweich said. “You don’t get appropriated a certain amount by the legislature and then to get around that by charging $1.7 million to other agencies.”
A spokesman for Nixon declined to comment and referred reporters to the office’s written response in the audit.
“The office accounts for its operational costs in a manner that properly reflects the nature of the work it performs,” Nixon’s office said in the audit.
In regard to travel expenses, the office said it follows state policy.
The audit found 14 agencies spent $770,000 funding all or part of the salaries for several employees of the governor’s office. The Office of Administration paid $32,000 to compensate an “adviser on education” to the governor, Schweich said.
Nixon’s office billed state agencies a total of $546,000 to cover flights on state planes and $37,000 for the meals and other travel costs.
Four state agencies spent more than $378,800 to pay for dues in the National Governors Association and Southern Governors’ Association.
As for the timing of the audit, just two months before Election Day, Schweich told The Associated Press that he originally planned to release it in June, but that was delayed because a key staff member was hurt in a vehicle accident and because his office had trouble getting some information from the Governor’s Mansion.