Part 3 of our 36-part look at the 35 states (and one Congress) more ethical than Missouri looks at the great state of Iowa. Iowa law states:
“A public official, public employee, or candidate, or that person’s immediate family member shall not, directly or indirectly, accept or receive any gift or series of gifts from a restricted donor. A public official, public employee, candidate, or the person’s immediate family member shall not solicit any gift or series of gifts from a restricted donor at any time.”
Restricted donors in Iowa include registered lobbyists and their employers. Iowa grants exceptions for:
“Nonmonetary items with a value of $3 or less that are received from any one donor during one calendar day.”
Thus, Iowa is technically one of 23 “Bright Line” states. “Bright Line” states allow lobbyists to give gifts, but only up to a specific restricted limit based on the value of gifts in question. $3 a day can’t really cover too much. Maybe a key ring or a coffee mug. Maybe. But certainly not sporting event tickets, concerts tickets, or golf trips.
So given this extremely strict limit (the strictest among these states with specific limits) we should probably consider Iowa to be essentially a “No Tolerance” state.
Clearly, Iowa understands what gifts of significant value are intended to do. They are designed to win the favor of lawmakers and to build or maintain relationships with decision-makers. Iowa legislators receive a salary, a per diem, and employee benefits from the taxpayers of Iowa.
Gifts of significant value from lobbyists corrupt the system and give the impression that elected representatives are on the take. Iowa understands this. So do 34 other states and the U.S. Congress.
Why doesn’t Missouri?