Jefferson City, Missouri - The Clean Missouri campaign released a new report 5 weeks from the election on the lobbyist gift culture in Jefferson City -- Missouri's capital -- and the campaign says that what they found were shocking statistics:
"Lobbyists have reported giving an average of $885,020 in gifts to the Missouri General Assembly every year, for years 2004-2017."
"The reported gift total for 2017—$1,070,667—is the highest on record at the Missouri Ethics Commission. The second highest reported total was $1,006,050 in 2006."
"Almost 70% of the gifts reported since 2004 — more than $8.5 million worth — have been reported as going to legislative caucuses, committees, and groups. This loophole in reporting effectively hides from public view which legislators, staffers and family members are taking most of the gifts in Missouri."
"Missouri's lobbyist gift culture crosses partisan lines. Of the top 10 gift recipients from 2004 to 2017, five were Democratic lawmakers, five Republicans, including gifts from lobbyists to their staff and family. Meanwhile, a growing bipartisan group of House and Senate leaders have sworn off gifts entirely, showing the way forward for a gift-free Jefferson City. Thirty-two state representatives and six state senators had zero dollar balances for 2017 in the Missouri Ethics Commission lobbyist gift database."
"Legislative leadership has repeatedly broken promises and failed to reform lobbyist gifts. Dozens of reform bills have been filed in the past decade, by legislators of both parties — but the General Assembly remains a no-limits world when it comes to free booze, food, tickets, junkets and other gifts."
On the ballot this November is Amendment 1, which would ban most gifts from lobbyists -- only allowing gifts up to $5. Clean Missouri will release additional information on the 5 ways this amendment would clean up state politics. Specifically, it:
- Bans most gifts to lobbyists;
- Requires legislative records to be open to the public;
- Bars legislators from becoming lobbyists for two years after leaving office;
- Lowers campaign contribution limits for legislative candidates; and
- Creates a nonpartisan process for legislative redistricting.
Read more detail on the amendment here.
The amendment went through a rollercoaster of a ride getting on the November ballot. First, Clean Missouri garnered over 300,000 signatures to qualify for the November ballot. Then, lobbyists and party insiders sued to remove it from the ballot. A Cole County judge stripped the amendment from the ballot, but the ruling was overturned by a federal appeals court.
Important to note is that Amendment 1 is one of four ballot measures nationwide that would create a less partisan redistricting process. Missouri voters will decide for themselves whether or not to pass the amendment on November 6.
Read the full report from Clean Missouri: