Press Release: Progress Missouri Files Complaint With Ethics Commission Regarding Lobbyists’ Abuse of ‘Group Expenditure’ Loophole

  

For Immediate Release
Media Contact: Sean Soendker Nicholson, (573) 427-7326, sean@progressmissouri.org

Progress Missouri Files Complaint With Ethics Commission Regarding Lobbyists’ Abuse of ‘Group Expenditure’ Loophole

JEFFERSON CITY – Progress Missouri filed a complaint with the Missouri Ethics Commission on Tuesday regarding the improper reporting of gifts to just five Republican legislators on an American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) junket as gifts to the “Entire General Assembly.”

Missouri law requires registered lobbyists to report the free food, drink, trips, tickets and other gifts they provide to elected officials as part of their efforts to influence public policy on behalf of their paying clients. But lobbyists are continually and increasingly reporting gifts to handfuls of legislators as ‘group expenditures,’ even though the lobbyists know exactly which public officials received the gifts. St. Louis Public Radio’s Chris McDaniel reported in June that “directing gifts to groups has been on the rise” in Missouri, and “nearly 80 percent of all the spending on gifts went toward group” for 2014 at the time of his analysis.

The complaint filed this week focuses on one $3,000 meal in Dallas, Texas enjoyed by Speaker Tim Jones, Speaker-Elect John Diehl, ALEC State Co-Chair Sue Allen, ALEC State Co-Chair Ed Emery and Sen. Wayne Wallingford.  Representatives Jeremy LaFaver and Caleb Rowden have both stated publicly that they were not invited to the gathering, making the event ineligible for reporting as a gift to the “Entire General Assembly.”

Lobbyist Charles G Simino reported the names of the individual legislators who attended this dinner because the “Entire General Assembly” did not enjoy the $3,000 dinner in a Dallas steakhouse one Saturday night in August.  “I know who is having dinner with us. The total General Assembly was not there, so I cannot report it as such,” he told The Kansas City Star.

Progress Missouri’s full complaint, along with details on the years of ALEC junket expenditures reported as group expenditures, may be found at ProgressMissouri.org/MEC-Complaint.

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