Missouri House Moves 4 Ethics Bills in 2nd Week
January 14, 2016

(AP) – Still reeling from the chaotic end of last session and the resignation of the chamber’s leader, members of the Missouri House started anew Thursday by passing four measures to change loose ethics laws.

The legislation would close the revolving door of lawmakers becoming lobbyists; require candidates, elected officials and others to report their personal finances more often; ban officials from also serving as paid political consultants; and require lawmakers disclose trips paid for by third parties more quickly.

Republicans asserted the bills are step forward after years of failed attempts to enact change, but others, mostly Democrats, argued the measures don’t go far enough. Missouri is the only state with the trio of unlimited campaign contributions, unlimited lobbyist gifts to lawmakers and a policy that allows legislators to immediately become lobbyists after leaving office.

Order, Ethics & Transportation May Carry Missouri Session
January 6, 2016

(AP) – Missouri lawmakers opened the 2016 session under new leadership Wednesday and saw a relatively quiet start after a tumultuous end to last year’s session.

House Speaker Todd Richardson, who took the helm after John Diehl admitted to exchanging sexually suggestive texts with an intern and resigned on the last day of the 2015 session, said changes to the Legislature’s ethics policies are a top priority.

Nixon and legislative leaders of both parties have said ethics changes and a way to pay for repairs to the state’s aging roads and bridges are needed this year. Both issues have been discussed for years in the Legislature with little success.

“This institution should not and will not be defined by the actions of a few,” said Richardson, a Poplar Bluff Republican. He added that while there is no rule or law “that can make our imperfect process perfect, we can, and we must, work to improve the environment in the people’s Capitol.”

After Diehl resigned, former Sen. Paul LeVota, D-Independence, left office in August amid claims that he sexually harassed interns, which he denied.

Proposed changes to ethics policies include banning lobbyist gifts to lawmakers and not allowing lawmakers to immediately become lobbyists after leaving public office. Measures to cap campaign contribution limits appear less likely to pass.

The Senate also is under new Republican leadership. Sen. Ron Richard, of Joplin, took over after former Senate President Pro Tem Tom Dempsey resigned in August to work at a St. Louis-based lobbying firm, although he does not lobby in Missouri.

Richard is the first president pro tem to also have previously been House speaker. He said little in the chamber on the first day of session, adding that he’d leave that up to his colleagues. “Let’s get to work,” Richard said

House Speaker Tilley Clashes With GOP Governor’s Candidate Spence Over Freebies
May 17, 2012

(AP) – Missouri House Speaker Steven Tilley is accusing fellow Republican Dave Spence of hypocrisy for his habit of doling out sports tickets to lawmakers in his bid to become governor.

Spence is seeking the GOP nomination to run against incumbent Democratic Gov. Jay Nixon in November. Though a political novice, Spence is a successful businessman who sold his container business for more than $200 million.

As part of his campaign, Spence is urging lawmakers to stop accepting perks from lobbyists.

Tilley told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch that Spence is being hypocritical since he regularly provides legislators with tickets to events such as Rams and Blues games.

Spence’s campaign said in a statement that the tickets are minor compared with the big money that flows from donors to political campaign.