Kentucky Fried Ethics: Border State Puts Missouri to Shame

In part 2 of our 36-part series “35 States (and one Congress) More Ethical than Missouri” we look at one of the best states when it comes to the regulation of lobbying.

Kentucky is known for fried chicken, thoroughbred racing, and basketball.  Add to the list – ethics, at least when it comes to the regulation of lobbyists.  Unlike Missouri, Kentucky prohibits ALL gifts from lobbyists to legislators.

Kentucky state law simply states:

“A legislator or his spouse shall not solicit, accept, or agree to accept anything of value from a legislative agent or his employer.”

Exceptions include “awards or plaques” and “food and beverages consumed on the premises.”

Kentucky is one of 13 states with (essentially) a “zero-tolerance” policy when it comes to gifts from lobbyists (and one of two zero-tolerance states that border Missouri).   They understand that these freebies are not being given out of the kindness of their lobbying hearts. 

Gifts are meant to BUY something that those without the means cannot.  They are meant to build or maintain a relationship that gives their group a leg-up on regulation, oversight, and legislation.

Compare that to Missouri where there are NO regulations or limits on gifts from lobbyists.  Zero.  Trips? Sporting event tickets?  Concert tickets?  Big cartoonish bags of cash?  You name the goodie, it’s all allowed in Missouri.

Kentucky understands that it’s naïve to think that a gift from a lobbyist is not meant to solicit something in return.  They also understand how bad that looks.

Why can’t Missouri?

Encourage your state legislator to sign the “Missouri Gift-Ban Pledge” and to support legislation limiting gifts from lobbyists.