JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. -- With Republican Gov. Matt Blunt flying on private planes, Democratic Attorney General Jay Nixon now is the only statewide elected official using state-owned planes. Nixon has flown five times in the state plane, costing taxpayers a total of $4,321, since Missouri's statewide officials took office in January. Nixon spokesman Scott Holste said the flights were on state business and reflected the attorney general's role as the state's chief law-enforcement official. But the state Republican Party criticized Nixon's flights, suggesting he should follow Blunt's model of using campaign money to charter private planes for public business.
"Jay Nixon would do well to take a page from Governor Blunt, who has taken every opportunity to save the taxpayers' money," said Republican Party spokesman John Hancock.
Democrats contend Blunt is using private planes to avoid scrutiny of how often he is flying, who is going with him and who ultimately is paying the bill. All of those details are open records when state planes are used. But campaign finance reports must list only how much money was paid to the plane's owner.
In Nixon's case, said Holste, "each of his trips has public documentation."