I , ___________________, declare my support for legislation to restrict – or to ban outright – gifts of any size from registered lobbyists, lobbying organizations, or others with a vested interest in the performance of my duties as a member of the Missouri General Assembly.
Missourians for Government Reform is promoting the above declaration of support among all new and returning members of the Missouri General Assembly.
For the past year, we have promoted efforts to ban, restrict – or at least strongly discourage – lobbyist gift-giving in the legislature. This current declaration aims to build support for legislation in the 2015 legislative session to restrict the practice.
Members have told us that they are not comfortable with making a “pledge” beyond their oath of office. We agree and fully support a legislator’s commitment to their oath to the people of Missouri.
Missouri is one of only 15 states with no restrictions. We feel that this must change.
Lobbyists don’t shower our representatives with gifts for no reason. They do so to sway opinion and to build relationships with our legislators in order to make their case. This is a luxury most Missourians do not enjoy. Thus, we feel that this practice perverts the democratic process and perpetuates the perception that legislators are for sale.
Moreover, we feel that it is a gross violation of the Missouri legislator’s oath of office:
“I do solemnly swear, or affirm, that I will support the Constitution of the United States and of the state of Missouri, and faithfully perform the duties of my office, and that I will not knowingly receive, directly or indirectly, any money or other valuable thing for the performance or nonperformance of any act or duty pertaining to my office, other than the compensation allowed by law.” (emphasis added). Art. III. Section 15 Missouri Constitution.
Missourians for Government Reform thinks it’s important to remind everyone about this oath; to remind everyone that even in 1875 there was a concern that legislators would fall victim to those trying to buy influence with “valuable things.”
They may not have had World Series tickets or golf junkets in mind in 1875, but they still understood the corrupting influence of those looking to build cozy relationships with our public servants.
We are asking our current office holders to return the legislature back to the terms of this oath.