Part 10 of our 36-Part series on states (and one Congress) more ethical than Missouri looks at West Virginia. We’ve looked at many states so far that allow certain levels of lobbyist gift-giving. Now lets look at a few states with “zero-tolerance” rules.
West Virginia doesn’t fool around. Here is their state law on the matter:
“A public official or public employee may not solicit any gift unless the solicitation is for a charitable purpose with no resulting direct pecuniary benefit conferred upon the official or employee or his or her immediate family: Provided, That no public official or public employee may solicit for a charitable purpose any gift from any person who is also an official or employee of the state and whose position as such is subordinate to the soliciting official or employee: Provided, however, That nothing herein shall prohibit a candidate for public office from soliciting a lawful political contribution. No official or employee may knowingly accept any gift, directly or indirectly, from a lobbyist or from any person whom the official or employee knows or has reason to know:
(A) Is doing or seeking to do business of any kind with his or her agency;
(B) Is engaged in activities which are regulated or controlled by his or her agency; or
(C) Has financial interests which may be substantially and materially affected, in a manner distinguishable from the public generally, by the performance or nonperformance of his official duties.”
Exceptions include some meals, some awards, and gifts of “insignificant” or “ceremonial” value.
West Virginia takes clear aim at the intent of lobbyists with business in the state. They clearly see the need to limit this behavior and pull no punches in limiting the perks, freebies, and gifts intended to influence the legislative process.
West Virginia joins 11 other states with no tolerance of lobbyist gift-giving. Lawmakers get a salary from the taxpayers. That should be enough.
West Virginia gets it. Why doesn’t Missouri?
Support the Missouri Gift-Ban Pledge and legislation limiting lobbyist gift-giving.