Originally posted by the St. Louis Post-Dispatch on January 4, 2019

When Missouri legislators return to Jefferson City next week, the politics under the Capitol dome will be a little cleaner. And some legislative bellies will be a little less full.

As a result of the “Clean Missouri” ballot measure passed last year, state lawmakers will no longer be allowed to accept any gifts worth more than $5 from lobbyists.

It’s going to be a major lifestyle change for politicians who, last year, were plied with more than $1 million in lobbyist gifts that included sports tickets, golf outings, travel and a constant stream of food and drink.

As veteran lobbyist Bill Gamble told the Post-Dispatch’s Kurt Erickson this week: “The most you’d be able to do (now) is offer a cup of coffee and a cheap doughnut.”

Which is as it should be. The outsized influence of lobbyists is among the biggest problems in Missouri politics today, and much of that influence can be traced right back to what amounts to legalized bribery of lawmakers with extravagant gifts. But by all means, enjoy that free doughnut.