Kinder to pay back money used for hotel stays

Update: April 7 at 12:55 p.m.: Republican Lt. Governor Peter Kinder is coming under fire for hotel stays billed to the state.The Kansas City Star reported Thursday that Kinder spent $706 for a three-night stay at the Intercontinental Hotel in July 2008. The Star said Kinder held town hall meetings during the trip, but also toured a construction site and hosted a fundraiser featuring Republican operative Karl Rove.Kinder's chief of staff, Bill Kenney, said the reimbursement was justified because Kinder met with constituents in his official capacity. The Democratic Party questioned whether the events really were state business.Earlier this week, Kinder said he would repay the state $35,050 after the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported he had charged that amount for 329 nights in St. Louis hotels since 2006.

Original Story: Missouri Lt. Gov. Peter Kinder is paying the state $35,050 for costs incurred while attending sporting events, society galas and tea party rallys.The money paid for hotel stays in St. Louis for events from 2006 to now. Kinder said he believes he did nothing wrong, but is paying back the money because he didn't want the slightest "taint or suspicion" related to his name.A report in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch said Kinder stayed in the hotels while attending events like a tea party rally where he was introduced as the next Governor of Missouri. Kinder is widely expected to run for the seat against current Governor Jay Nixon.The Lt. Governor said he will use a condominium paid for by his campaign for future visits to St. Louis. Campaign staffers are also expected to use the condo, according to a campaign spokesman."It's a little bit more expensive than I can afford, but we have decided to put this behind us," Kinder told radio station KFTK.The Republican from Cape Girardeau has had more stays than any other statewide elected official. Attorney General Chris Koster had 29 hotel stays in Missouri since 2009, including eight during a murder trial in Kansas City. During the same period, Kinder had 150.Public employees are prohibited by law from using state resources for personal or political purposes. Missouri Democrats want Kinder to release more details about his travel and reimburse the state for trips to other areas of the state. The $35,050 is only for trips to St. Louis.Kinder is not the only elected official in Missouri coming under fire for trips paid for by government money. Last month, Claire McCaskill paid back nearly $76,000 to the U.S. Treasury after complaints that she used the money to pay for trips on her private plane. She later paid back taxes for the plane and decided to sell it. Her office said she did nothing wrong, but wanted to make sure she paid the money back to help with perception of the situation. Missouri GOP members lodged an ethics complaint against the Senior Senator.Do you think Kinder should have used the funds for the events? Do you think Missouri needs tighter reigns on statewide travel by elected officials? Sound off in our comments section.(The Associated Press contributed to this report)