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Schweich Punts Again

UPDATE: Leader Mike Talboy has issued a statement about Schweich's new standard for how his 'rapid response' team will investigate waste and fraud in government.

Consistent with his primary campaign promise to be a partisan Auditor, Tom Schweich announced yesterday that he will not be conducting any sort of review of Lt. Governor Peter Kinder's obviously inappropriate habit of billing taxpayers for his campaign and personal travel.  As reported in the Daily Star-Journal:

Concerns about Lt. Gov. Peter Kinder's spending do not rise to the standard required to invoke use of State Auditor Tom Schweich's rapid response team, Schweich spokesman Gary McElyea said Wednesday.

"There has to be a theft or fraud, and then an ongoing waste, and we immediately have to step in," McElyea said.

There is no evidence of ongoing waste in revelations by newspapers about Kinder's spending on hotels in Kansas City and St. Louis, McElyea said.

Emphasis added. The misuse taxpayer dollars -- and charging taxpayers more than the allowable rates -- aren't of interest to the Auditor because they're not "ongoing?"  Since the waste, theft and fraud allegedly ended with Kinder's Capitol press conference, there's nothing to audit?

You may also recall that Schweich promised to recuse himself from any examination of Kinder's practices, on account of Kinder's huge support for Schweich's 2010 campaign.

Asked how he would audit political allies such as Lt. Gov. Peter Kinder, who donated $220,000 to his campaign, Schweich promised to recuse himself from handling audits "directly involving my contributors."

But since there's no "ongoing waste," there's nothing from which Schweich needs to recuse himself. How nice!

Left unmentioned in the Daily Star-Journal story is the fact that McElyea was Kinder's communications staffer until very recently.  

Leader Mike Talboy's response to Schweich's punt is below the fold. 

Auditor Schweich’s rapid response team fails to deploy

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. – In an April 12 editorial, The Warrensburg Daily Star-Journal urged State Auditor Thomas Schweich to activate his office’s new “rapid response” team to investigate allegations that Lt. Gov. Peter Kinder has spent tens of thousands of taxpayer dollars to stay at luxury hotels while conducting personal and campaign business. In an April 14 follow-up story, the paper reported that Schweich’s spokesman said “there has to be a theft or fraud” for the rapid response team to be activated and that Kinder’s actions didn’t constitute breaking the law.

“Most Missourians no doubt agree that if Lieutenant Governor Kinder charged taxpayers for campaign and personal expenses as alleged, it could constitute ‘theft or fraud,’” said House Minority Leader Mike Talboy, D-Kansas City. “Apparently, when the allegations of gross misuse of taxpayer money involve Auditor Schweich’s single-biggest campaign donor and political ally, his only rapid response is to turn a blind eye.”

The St. Louis Post-Dispatch first exposed Kinder’s dubious billing habits in an April 3 story. Two days later, Kinder publicly announced that he would reimburse the state for $35,000 in expenses by April 8. As of April 15, Kinder apparently still hasn’t done so.

Schweich announced the creation of his rapid response team on Feb. 16. In a news release, Schweich said the team would “ensure that our office responds quickly to serious allegations of waste, fraud or abuse.” 




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