Part 26 of our 36-part series on states more ethical than Missouri looks at Utah.
State law reads:
“It is an offense for a public officer or public employee (Legislators and staff exempt from these terms) to knowingly receive, accept, take, seek, or solicit, directly or indirectly for himself or another a gift of substantial value or a substantial economic benefit tantamount to a gift: (a) that would tend improperly to influence a reasonable person in the person’s position to depart from the faithful and impartial discharge of the person’s public duties; (b) that the public officer or public employee knows or that a reasonable person in that position should know under the circumstances is primarily for the purpose of rewarding the public officer or public employee for official action taken.”
Utah law goes on further to provide exceptions for gifts under $50. Thus, Utah joins 23 other states that allow gifts from lobbyists to legislators but only up to a limit. These states are known as “Bright Line” states since that allow gifts up to a specific legally drawn line.
Utah’s law takes into account how the gift-giver is primarily interested in “rewarding” the public officer for action taken. This realistic view of the gift-giving lobbyist is foreign in the limitless political environment in Missouri.
Utah understands the problem and did something about it. When will Missouri?
Support the Missouri Gift-Ban Pledge and legislation regulating lobbyist gift-giving.