Friday, November 1, 2002

Gov. won't pay costs of meeting mistress

Security required, personal trip or not

The Associated Press

FRANKFORT - Gov. Paul Patton said he does not believe he should pay for the costs of his executive security detail when he secretly met with his former mistress, Tina Conner.

Mr. Patton said paying such costs would require future governors to reimburse the state for every private, personal trip.

"And then it would be very difficult for the state police to provide security for the governor," Mr. Patton said at an impromptu news conference Wednesday. "So I don't want to start any precedent that would improperly limit the activities of the governor in the future."

Since acknowledging the affair with Ms. Conner last month, Mr. Patton has said he would pay for any improper expenses incurred by taxpayers related to the affair.

But Mr. Patton said Wednesday that state law requires a member of the Kentucky State Police to accompany the governor 24 hours a day, seven days a week, whether on personal or public business.

"I think it would be a very bad precedent for any governor to start reimbursing the state police for any specific private, personal trip," Mr. Patton said.

Ms. Conner, a Hickman County nursing home operator, has said she met with Mr. Patton nine or 10 times from 1997 through 1999 at hotels in Louisville and Lexington.

Ellen Williams, chairman of the Kentucky Republican Party, said, "I think these comments again show the arrogance of Patton and the folks around him.

"There's an investigation going on," she said. "He should let the investigation run its course."

The governor repeated Wednesday he would reimburse the state for any personal phone calls related to the affair, but he said he does not believe he would owe money for any such calls.

"I've had a personal phone on my desk until very recently. If I was making what I thought was a personal phone call, I've always used a personal credit card," Mr. Patton said. "I've tried not to charge any personal calls of any nature to the state. I may have made some mistakes. If that comes out, certainly I would be more than pleased to reimburse the state for those calls."

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