A new audit questions whether Missouri officials were justified in buying a $5.6 million airplane that is frequently used by Gov. Jay Nixon.
A report released Tuesday by Auditor Tom Schweich says the Missouri State Highway Patrol did not do a formal written analysis before purchasing the plane last December. The audit contends Missouri's existing passenger planes were already underutilized.
The patrol disputes that. The law enforcement agency says it did a thorough analysis before buying the new King Air 250. It says the plane was needed because the requests for flights from other state entities exceeded its supply of planes.
Since 2006, the Highway Patrol's duties have included flying state officials across Missouri. The patrol says they've been selective on who to fly because there wasn't a plan available.
However, Schweich says last year, there were 113 days where no planes were used and zero days where all of the state's planes were used.
"When you have a situation where there are no days when all five of your existing planes fly and 113 days where no planes flew, you have to ask why did you buy a new plane?" questioned Schweich.
Records obtained by The Associated Press show that Nixon was the only elected state official to use the new plane during the first three months of this year.
Schweich told ABC 17 News no laws were broken, but the Highway Patrol should have done more analysis and talked with legislators before making the large purchase.