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Legislators question state's purchase of $5.6M airplane

Jay Nixon
File Photo

Some Republicans in the State Senate are expressing outrage that the Missouri Highway Patrol spent more than $5.5 million on a new airplane that could be used by Democratic Governor Jay Nixon and other elected state officials. 

Freshman Senator Ryan Silvey of Kansas City and a few others paid a visit Wednesday to Jefferson City’s airport to examine the King Air 250. Silvey says lawmakers should have had input into the purchase: “It was circumventing the legislature to purchase a new plane for the governor to fly around the state to have these press conferences…it’s very troubling, especially at this time…you gotta remember, this is the governor that recommended cutting 100 million dollars out of Higher Education last year.”

Silvey says he was told by the Highway Patrol that the plane’s first flight was Wednesday, and that it would be used to take Governor Nixon to St. Louis.  The governor’s office referred all calls to the State Highway Patrol, which has not responded to our requests for a comment.

Missouri Public Radio State House Reporter Marshall Griffin is a proud alumnus of the University of Mississippi (a.k.a., Ole Miss), and has been in radio for over 20 years, starting out as a deejay. His big break in news came when the first President Bush ordered the invasion of Panama in 1989. Marshall was working the graveyard shift at a rock station, and began ripping news bulletins off the old AP teletype and reading updates between songs. From there on, his radio career turned toward news reporting and anchoring. In 1999, he became the capital bureau chief for Florida's Radio Networks, and in 2003 he became News Director at WFSU-FM/Florida Public Radio. During his time in Tallahassee he covered seven legislative sessions, Governor Jeb Bush's administration, four hurricanes, the Terri Schiavo saga, and the 2000 presidential recount. Before coming to Missouri, he enjoyed a brief stint in the Blue Ridge Mountains, reporting and anchoring for WWNC-AM in Asheville, North Carolina. Marshall lives in Jefferson City with his wife, Julie, their dogs, Max and Mason, and their cat, Honey.