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Government, Politics & Issues

Kinder claims no additional donors seeking money back

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, Aug. 23, 2011 - A campaign consultant for Lt. Gov. Peter Kinder said today that no other donors have followed the lead of major contributor David Humphreys by asking for their money back, in the wake of the controversy over the lieutenant governor's acquaintance with a former stripper, Tammy Chapman.

Kinder's campaign also is circulating an internal poll that shows Kinder competitive in a head-to-head pairing with Gov. Jay Nixon, a Democrat. Kinder, a Republican, has planned to announce shortly that he will challenge Nixon next year. 

The good news for Kinder: the poll shows Kinder trailing by single digits. The bad news: the poll was conducted before the bulk of the news coverage about Chapman.

But Kinder could be hurt by another gossipy missive in the latest edition of the Riverfront Times, which originally posted the photo of Kinder with Chapman, taken earlier this year at the local bar where she worked. The bar was noted for its "pantless party nights'' for employees. Kinder has said he unexpectedly ran into Chapman while stopping at the bar to use the men's room.

That photo set off a frenzy of coverage about Chapman's work almost 20 years ago as an East Side stripper, and Kinder's admission that he stopped at the club where she worked close to a dozen times. Kinder has denied her more salacious accounts about their relationship, saying he simply watched her dance.

But the account was enough to rankle Humphreys, who recently sent word to Kinder that he wanted his money back -- and that he wanted Kinder to drop his bid for governor, and also consider resigning his current office.

The state Republican Party has sought to quell any controversy, by continuing to assert that the coverage of Chapman was largely manufactured by Democrats, who deny being any more than interested bystanders. Kinder asserts that Democrats circulated her photo during his 2008 re-election bid. His old Democratic opponent, Sam Page, disagrees.

Kinder's consultant, Jared Craighead, declined to comment about Humphreys. But other party sources have confirmed that he has demanded that Kinder return his contributions -- which total $165,000 just for his planned bid for governor next year.

Republican sources say Kinder has been trying for days to talk to Humphreys, in hopes of resolving the discord. Humphreys, the chief executive of Tamko Building Products in Joplin, has been Kinder's top donor for more than a decade.

Meanwhile, some Republicans in Kinder's hometown of Cape Girardeau are floating another name for governor: state Sen. Jason Crowell, R-Cape Girardeau, who often has been a thorn in the side of fellow Republicans, as well as Nixon.

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