Peter Kinder: Eyewitness Contradicts Lt. Gov's Account of Pantless Party

Aug 23, 2011 at 7:30 am
A patron at Verlin's says that Chapman told her about Kinder's offer on the same day he popped into the bar where she works.
A patron at Verlin's says that Chapman told her about Kinder's offer on the same day he popped into the bar where she works.
Last week, attempting some long-overdue damage control, Missouri Lieutenant Governor Peter Kinder essentially confirmed major chunks of our August 9 blog post -- in which former Penthouse Pet Tammy Chapman alleged Kinder was one of her best customers in the early 90s, when she was a stripper and he was a state senator.

Kinder admitted that he watched Chapman strip in Sauget at least ten times. He admitted he had "a romantic attraction" for her. And he admitted that, yes, in early 2011, he'd shown up at Verlin's, a bar which now advertises its "pantless parties," and posed for the picture that ultimately ended up being sent to the RFT.

Of course he's still arguing about some details. He says he never asked Chapman to move into his campaign-financed Brentwood condo. And, he says, he never asked her to email him the photo -- he claims Chapman or her friend John Ross must have sent it to the RFT in a concerted effort to smear his name. (See our post on why that's not true.) Those have become the main arguments of the people standing by Kinder, such as Lloyd Smith, executive director of the Missouri Republican Party.

But we've now spoken with a guy who was at Verlin's on the day Kinder dropped by -- and his story appears to contradict some of Kinder's key contentions.

Robert Taylor, 48, had no idea that what he was witnessing that day at Verlin's would become the talk of the town. A St. Louis pipefitter, he just stopped in for a late lunch because he likes Verlin's chicken wings. But what Taylor observed could blow a hole in two of Kinder's key denials.

Kinder walked in, Taylor recalls, and Chapman told Taylor that he was the lieutenant governor. "I wouldn't have known otherwise," Taylor says. Then the bartender and the politician chatted for awhile at the other end of the bar -- out of earshot.

But Taylor saw Chapman snap the now-infamous photo on her phone, just as she told the RFT. And he saw her "doing a bunch of buttons on the phone" soon after. ("There wasn't a whole lot going on in there that day," Taylor recalls, so he couldn't help watching the pair.) After Kinder left -- like Chapman, Taylor doesn't remember him staying all that long -- Chapman explained that she'd been asked to email Kinder the picture.

Oh, and Kinder also asked her something else, Chapman told Taylor.

"She told me that he'd offered her a place to stay," Taylor says. Taylor also recalls a key detail which Chapman told us during our interview August 9, but which we left out of our initial report: When Chapman explained that a condo in Brentwood was out of the question since she didn't drive anymore, Kinder told her he could arrange for a car service.

"She also said he'd made her uncomfortable years before," Taylor adds.

Taylor says he's not political and has nothing to gain by sharing his memories. "I don't know Peter Kinder other than watching him walk in that day," he says. "I didn't even get introduced to him!"

But his story could be damaging.

Kinder claims that he stopped by Verlin's that late-winter day to use the bathroom and then posed for a picture at Chapman's behest. He supposedly did this even after, he claims, Democrats tried to bring up Chapman in the 2008 campaign. (Although, for the record, no Democrats seem to have any recollection of that supposed smear.) Then, he says, he left.

Kinder told the Post-Dispatch's Jake Wagman that he has no idea how Chapman knew he had a condo in Brentwood. He suggested that Chapman must have gotten info about the condo from his campaign-finance reports.

Forget, for the moment, the weird suggestion that a blond bombshell/ex-stripper/bartender would pore over campaign-finance reports looking for dirt. If Taylor's telling the truth -- and there's no reason to believe he isn't -- Kinder's got a bigger problem on his hands than simply common sense.

And that's this: For Chapman to tell Taylor about the condo offer that day, she would have had to pore over those reports prior to Kinder's visit on the off chance he just might stop by, even though they hadn't seen each other in years.

Leaving beside the question of why she'd do such dutiful background research, in this case, it would be literally impossible: The first report to mention the Brentwood condo wasn't filed with the Missouri Ethics Commission until April 15, weeks after Kinder showed up at Verlin's. The condo was also mentioned in the Post-Dispatch, but that was also in April -- again, long after Chapman told Robert Taylor about Kinder's offer.

If Robert Taylor is telling the truth -- and again, there's no reason to believe he isn't -- Peter Kinder has to be lying.