One of the key players we have been following in the Missouri battle over reform issues is Sen. Rob Schaaf (R- St. Joseph). This week, Schaaf released an op-ed attacking the failed bill that supposedly banned lobbyist gifts.
The entire article can be read HERE.
In short, Schaaf points out that the supposed “ban” would still allow for unlimited gifts so long as all members of a given chamber were invited to an event that the lobbyists were present.
Moreover, lobbyists are allowed to give $40 in gifts to a given legislator per day so long the gift is either (a) food or beverages with which the legislator planned to entertain guests in the Capitol, or (b) gifts that the legislator was going to enjoy in the presence of the lobbyist, be they meals, drinks, entertainment or anything else.
Look, lobbyists are an important part of a plural society. They also, while they get a bad reputation, provide some needed information to lawmakers. However, the reason to look at this issue is that lobbyists can have outsized influence on policy.
An outright “ban” on gifts is likely not the way to go. We do not have a problem with lobbyists occasionally buying a meal, or a drink, or a snack for a legislator. Such small gifts likely do not pose a threat to influence legislation. However, the proposed ban, still leaves the door wide open to influence legislators far more than their voters ever could.