Auditor criticizes Governor Nixon for travel expenses

Missouri's new auditor is criticizing Governor Jay Nixon's administration for billing a state agency over travel costs.The audit released Thursday by Republican Auditor Tom Schweich found $1,630 was charged to the Division of Workforce Development, in the Department of Economic Development. Nixon and a labor department official promoted a program administered by the workforce division. The audit said documents for the flight showed no division staff came along.Schweich says charging the division doesn't seem proper and distorts costs.Former Democratic Auditor Susan Montee, who left office in January, had also raised similar concerns in a review of the Department Mental Health.The governor has been under scrutiny since is was revealed that he spend $400,000 of other state agencies' funds for airplane travel during a two-year period. Nixon has defended the billing practice for his flights because he's engaging in state business. The Economic Development Department says costs for travel that benefit state agencies is an appropriate expense. Today's audit was released just hours after the Missouri Senate passed next year's budget, which prohibits the governor from billing state departments for his travel. In exchange, Nixon will get an additional $250,000 for travel his travel expenses. Republican lawmakers have criticized the governor for charging other state agencies for his travel, especially during hard economic times. What do you think? Should the governor be allowed to bill his travel through other departments?(The Associated Press contributed to this article)