If at first… or second… or third… you don’t succeed….
For the fourth year in a row, Missourians for Government Reform will be encouraging the enactment of a lobbyist gift-giving ban. Last year the General Assembly came close. Legislation essentially banning lobbyist gifts quickly passed in the House only to die a painful death in the Senate.
MoReform is hopeful that 2017 is finally the year.
Unlike past years, we will not be encouraging legislators to sign a “pledge.” Instead, we’ll be reminding them that such a ban is already found in the legislative 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.
Since 1875 Missouri elected representatives have needed to swear to this oath upon entrance to the General Assembly. A common sense reading of the oath prohibits legislators from accepting gifts from anyone with an interest in gaining political influence. By definition, political influence is what lobbyists desire.
Receipt of “any money or other valuable thing” from lobbyists must therefore be prohibited.
But astonishingly, Missouri is still one of 15 states that allow unlimited lobbyist gift-giving. Meals? Trips? World Series tickets? It’s all allowed. This is a corruption. And it must be eliminated.
MoReform takes seriously this and all other acts that corrode public confidence in the republic. Eliminating these acts of legalized bribery is a good first step to regaining the public trust. We at MoReform will be keeping a careful eye on the progress of this legislation.
Below are links to the current list of bills dealing with lobbyist gift-giving:
HB229 (Deals with gifts to LOCAL government officials)
-John P. Messmer