In 2013, the Missouri House Utilities Committee held a get together – something they are allowed and expected to do. But this one was different. The House Utilities Committee held their hearing at a Columbia steakhouse – 30 miles from the Missouri capitol. And lobbyists paid for the whole thing.
The Committee members took a $300 ride to the steakhouse, and enjoyed $48 in bonus drinks during their ride. At the end of the night, the steakhouse bill totaled $4,827.
It gets worse. The same group of legislators then enjoyed a $1,200 meal at the Jefferson City Country Club the very next night.
Here’s the kicker: We don’t know which elected officials enjoyed the $5,000 steakhouse extravaganza.
Due to a loophole in lobbyist gift reporting, lobbyists can report their ‘gifts’ as going to a group. This means that Missouri citizens don’t get to know who actually participates in and receives these fancy dinners, expensive transportation, and high-end cocktails.
To recap: An unknown combination of Utilities Committee members enjoyed a $5,000 steakhouse evening paid for by a lobbyist employed to influence the Utilities Committee members, and we have no idea who was there, or how much they free food and booze each elected official enjoyed.
No matter which party you believe in, this is not right.
The Clean Missouri amendment will ban all lobbyist gifts above $5 and increase transparency and accountability to our state government.
Here are the facts – The Clean Missouri amendment will:
- lower campaign contribution limits for state legislative candidates
- eliminate almost all lobbyist gifts
- require politicians wait two years before becoming lobbyists
- require that legislative records be open to the public
- ensure that neither political party is given an unfair advantage when new maps are drawn after the next census, by asking a nonpartisan expert to draw fair legislative district maps, which would then be reviewed by a citizen commission