MO Ethics Commission makes clarification on Lobbyist Gifts to Elected Officials

In an effort to expose the influx of gifts and political contributions from gambling special interest, we have posted documented stories of elected officials accepting concert tickets, cruises, meals and other monetary gifts. With that aim below is an interesting story from The Turner Report.

From Randy Turner at The Turner Report:

Though the names are carefully blacked out on the opinion, it appears an elected official who has been accepting tickets to entertainment events from lobbyists tried to get a ruling which would allow him or her to accept the tickets, keep one, report that one, and then spread the tickets around to others without having to count them as gifts.

That effort failed.

The opinion, issued June 5, indicates the person requesting the opinion asked the following question:

“If an elected official accepts more than one ticket to a sporting event or an entertainment performance, uses one ticket for his or her use and then give the remainder to another person, not related to him or her and not employed by him or her in an official capacity, does the lobbyist disclose only the value of the ticket used by the elected official or the total of all tickets received and accepted on behalf of the elected official?”

The opinion said that the lobbyist must report the value of all tickets.

Of course, the value of all the tickets must be reported. The whole idea of reporting gifts is so the public can know which lobbyists are lavishing gifts on which elected officials. If the lobbyists are giving the gifts to the elected officials and then those officials turn right around and provide them to others, it is still something that ultimately leaves the elected official feeling kindly toward the lobbyist and whatever special interests he or she represent.

When we see our elected officials trying to get around those reporting requirements, it becomes obvious why the requirements are necessary. Of course, banning all gifts from lobbyists would be the best solution. That would not keep them from exercising their constitutional right to petition the government, it would just allow the public’s business to be conducted in a more businesslike fashion.

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