Governor Nixon's travel expenses will be audited

Missouri Auditor Tom Schweich plans to examine Gov. Jay Nixon's travel expenses.Schweich said Friday that the governor's office is due for a regularly scheduled audit this year, and part of that will focus on Nixon's practice of billing agencies for his state airplane travel.An audit released earlier this month by Schweich's predecessor, Susan Montee, faulted the mental health department for paying travel costs for the governor that had little to do with the agency. Schweich says the issue of gubernatorial travel also will be addressed in two other agency audits already in progress.He says it's natural to follow up on Nixon's travel as part of the governor's office audit, because it has raised red flags in the past.Last week, House Speaker Steven Tilley and Minority Leader Mike Talboy told the Associated Press they plan to stop allowing Governor Jay Nixon to bill state departments for his air travels.Gov. Nixon justified billing agencies for travel by saying that if people from different state departments are traveling with him, then they should have to pay part of the bill.

The AP first reported in 2009 that Nixon was charging agencies for his flights instead of paying for them out of his office budget.

In May 2009 for example, Nixon flew averaged a flight every other day and billed state agencies nearly $25,000.

Then in 2010, critics cried hypocrisy because Nixon continued to bill flights to state agencies even while instructing them to cut back on their own travel expenses.(The Associated Press Contributed to this story.