One Ethics Bill Clears Missouri Senate
February 4, 2015

(AP) – State senators on Wednesday gave initial approval to strengthening ethics laws in Missouri, the only state with the trio of unlimited campaign contributions, no limits on gifts from lobbyists and no restrictions against state lawmakers going into lobbying as soon as they leave public office.

The bill by Senate Majority Leader Ron Richard, a Joplin Republican, is the first ethics bill to gain approval in either chamber this session. It begins to deal with lobbyist gifts and the revolving door of employment after public service, but it does nothing to limit campaign contributions.

The legislation would increase public reporting on gifts to legislators, ban lawmakers from becoming lobbyists until at least two years after they leave office and ban out-of-state trips paid for by lobbyists.

The bill needs a second Senate vote to go to the House, which has been hearing public testimony on its own package of ethics proposals.

Bills to beef up ethics laws have been introduced with little success in previous sessions. But Republican and Democratic legislative leaders both have placed a higher priority on the proposals this year.

Missouri Bill Filed to Restrict Consultants and Lobbyists in Jeff City
December 26, 2013

KC Star:

Missouri state Sen. John Lamping says paid political consultants should stick to campaigns — and stay out of policy decisions.

Lamping, a Republican from the St. Louis area, filed an ethics reform bill this month that would prohibit consultants from working as lobbyists — and lobbyists from working as consultants. He says operatives who help elect candidates shouldn’t be able to turn around and work for special-interest clients to influence those lawmakers, as is now routinely the case.

“The problem we have in Missouri with people wearing both of those hats … is that it gives tremendous leverage to that person,” he said. “It’s way too much access. And many times it isn’t disclosed.”

The proposal is part of a broader ethics blueprint. Under his plan, consultants couldn’t lobby while taking money from candidates and for six months after “ceasing to consult.” Registered lobbyists couldn’t offer campaign advice, for money, within a similar time-frame.

Additionally, political consultants would be required to register with the Missouri Ethics Commission and publicly disclose their clients. Under current law, only lobbyists must register.

During the legislature’s 2013 session, more than 40 lobbyists and consultants earned hundreds of thousands of dollars buttonholing Missouri lawmakers over a proposed change in liquor distribution laws. But there are scores of additional examples of consultants and lobbyists blurring the line between politics and policy, Lamping said.

“You have political consultants who also lobby for the utility companies. You have consultants who are working … on the Medicaid expansion. You have consultants on all sides of a lot of issues,” he said.

Steve Glorioso, a well-known local Democratic political adviser and consultant, is also a registered lobbyist and worked on the liquor issue. He said banning lobbyists from working as consultants might run into constitutional problems.

“Registering is no big deal,” he said in an email. “But what is his definition of a political consultant? I would refer him to the United States Constitution, especially the First Amendment.”

Woody Cozad, a registered lobbyist who does not consult on political issues for a fee, raised a similar concern.

“I don’t see that the bill would alter the situation very much — although he might be able to talk me into it,” Cozad said.

But Larry Jacob, a Kansas City-based political consultant, said stricter rules might be helpful.

“The more transparency the better,” he said in an email. “It’s another form to fill out, but that’s a small price to put some order to the political Wild West of Missouri.”

Jeff Roe, one of the best-known political consultants in Missouri, is not registered as a lobbyist, but he was involved in the liquor law discussion last spring.

“Tell us the rules and we will play by them,” he said in an email.

Read more here:

Police Board President calls for Investigation into Lobbyist Dinners
February 10, 2011

Kansas City Police Board President Pat McInerney today called for an outside audit and outside independent investigator to  look at controversial dinner bills submitted by the some of department’s  top commanders who also function as lobbyists at the state legislature.

“We’ve been through two years of records,” said McInerney, ” there are a number of issues, a number of events.”.

McInerney says  at least  three dinner bills totaling more than $1,600  appear to be “not appropriate”. The bills include the costs of alcohol, which is against department policy.

In addition, the meals were at the Capital Grille on Kansas City’s County Club Plaza, not in Jefferson City where the department lobbyists have $46/per day per diem. Lobbyists are not supposed to bill the department for Kansas City meals.

Police Chief Jim Corwin was at some of the meals.

McInerney told reporters at today’s Police Board meeting that he got a tip about the pricey meals last week and asked for the records. He said he reviewed them last weekend.

McInerney says he will ask the  commanders, who include  Majors  Roger Lewis and Wayne Stewart,  to reimburse the  department for the  excess spending. He says some of that money has already been repaid.

The police department has a steady lobbying presence at the state capitol during the legislative session. McInerney defended that practice. But he made it clear the  lobbyist expenses are under review.

“We’re taking a look at all of them”, he said.

“We’ve asked, and we’re going to ask, an outside auditor to take a look at all of those”, he added.

“We’re going to engage an independent counsel to look at these as well and report back to the  Board”.