KANSAS CITY – A non-profit and a political action committee spent nearly $140,000 last year on travel for Missouri Gov. Mike Parson, according to financial disclosures filed with the state ethics commission.
The bulk of those expenses — around $115,000 — involved trade missions to Europe, Australia and San Francisco by Parson and his wife that were paid for by the Hawthorn Foundation, a nonprofit organization funded by the state and corporate donors to promote economic growth and attract jobs.
Most of the rest of the costs were covered by Uniting Missouri, a political action committee formed to support Parson's campaign for governor. Uniting Missouri spent about $20,500 for travel to Aspen, Colo., Washington, D.C., San Francisco and to attend the Super Bowl in Miami.
The Star previously reported that Parson's December trip to Washington, D.C., was on the private plane of Rick DeStefane, the owner of a nursing home company that has been investigated for Medicaid fraud. The trip followed a fundraiser in St. Louis with several nursing home executives.
Parson traveled to the Super Bowl on the private plane of Independence businessman Tom Duvall, the owner of Truckmovers.com, a company that transports large trucks across the country.
Most of Parson's travel on private planes is not included on his personal disclosure form but rather on campaign finance disclosures filed by Uniting Missouri.
St. Charles County Democratic Party Executive Director Kyle Garner filed a complaint with the Missouri Ethics Commission in February alleging Parson's use of private planes paid for by Uniting Missouri violated a state law barring most coordination between candidates and independent PAC.
The Republican Governor's Association covered $3,400 in travel expenses for Parson and his wife to travel to Boca Raton, Fla., for the governor to participate in the group's annual conference.
Columbia attorney Jennifer Bukowsky spent $433 to cover costs associated with Parson and his wife traveling to Iowa for a campaign event for President Donald Trump.
The Hawthorn Foundation has helped pay for trade missions by Missouri governors for years.
Parson's European trip, which included stops in France, Germany, and Switzerland, cost around $55,000. The governor met with numerous corporate executives, including from Bayer AG, Swiss Re and Nestlé.
A month later, Parson announced that Bayer was relocating 500 jobs to the St. Louis suburbs.
The Australian trip cost around $54,000 and included meetings with businesses and government leaders.
The San Francisco trip cost $5,000. Parson met with Bay Area technology executives.