Kinder doesn’t discuss claims at breakfast

SEDALIA, Mo. (AP) — Lt. Gov. Peter Kinder said Thursday he has nothing left to say about the allegations of a former exotic dancer and Penthouse model who claims he was forceful with her during his visits to an adult club in the 1990s.

Kinder appeared at the annual ham breakfast at the Missouri State Fair, following several interviews Wednesday in which he said he made about 10 visits to the Diamond Cabaret but denied the woman's claims that he pulled her down forcefully twice during lap dances. He also denied offering to let her move into a campaign-financed condominium in suburban Brentwood.

Appearing at the fair's annual ham breakfast, Kinder seemed eager to put the story behind him.

"I've said all I'm going to say," Kinder told reporters.

Kinder, a Republican, is expected to challenge incumbent Democratic Gov. Jay Nixon in 2012. Both were at the breakfast, and Kinder was among the many people attending the event whom Nixon briefly greeted when they entered.

Kinder was put on the defensive last week when the St. Louis alternative newspaper Riverfront Times quoted Tammy Chapman, who said that twice in the mid-1990s, while Kinder was in the state Senate, he pulled her down "forcefully" during lap dances. Chapman also said that she saw Kinder earlier this year at a St. Louis bar where she worked and that they exchanged small talk and took a cell phone photo. She said she declined Kinder's offer to stay at the condo.

The paper's story was accompanied by a photo of Kinder and Chapman, smiling.

Kinder has said that Chapman is lying about their encounters, and that he never was forceful or invited her to stay at the condo. Kinder told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch that he has no idea how the photo ended up with the Riverfront Times. Chapman has stood by her story.

After the Riverfront Times published the claims, Kinder issued a statement labeling Chapman's story as "bizarre" and "not true." He also has directed blame toward Democrats and the governor, saying "Jay Nixon may want to make up false stories about the past" but insisting that he would remain focused on jobs and education.

Asked by reporters Thursday after the breakfast if his campaign had anything to do with the disclosures and whether it would be an issue in the campaign, Nixon said, "All of that stuff is kind of disappointing and disturbing. I really don't have much to say about it. Let him answer the questions."

The breakfast at the fair is an annual political event that draws state leaders, members of Congress and others involved in Missouri government and politics. Kinder spoke with numerous people, including lawmakers, during the event.

House Speaker Steven Tilley, a Perryville Republican who previously announced that he is running for lieutenant governor next year, said Kinder helped himself by explaining his side of the story. Tilley said Kinder is liked and respected throughout the state.

"He's done a good job, he's been a good loyal member and leader of the party, and I think he's in good shape," Tilley said.

State Auditor Tom Schweich, a Republican who was standing near Kinder as people waited in line for food, said he completely supports Kinder.

"I think we ought to be focusing on the job situation, economic development, issues that are really important to Missourians," Schweich said.

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