April was a good month for legislators hoping to receive freebies from lobbyists, showing a sharp uptick from the previous month in gifts, according to the most recent lobbyist disclosures.
The grand total for gifts so far is $619,157. Once again, the vast majority (75%) of the gifts for this month were to groups and committees instead of individual legislators. As we've detailed before, it's a practice that hides the true recipient of the gift.
On the individual recipient side, Republican Senator Ryan Silvey should feel more comfortable with his lead. Silvey has received $5,318.10 in gifts from lobbyists, more than any other individual legislator. The next biggest recipient is Democratic Senator Jamilah Nasheed, who has received about $4,500 in gifts.
A few noteworthy gifts:
- Jokers: The entire General Assembly received playing cards with their photos on them. The Missouri Credit Union spent more than $2,000 on the decks.
- Scoop! Legislators got to have a nice April ice cream social, courtesy of the Missouri Pharmacy Association and the Association of Electric Cooperatives.
- Hopefully A Typo: According to the most recent filings, St. Louis Community College paid for a "Senate Crap Boil." Considering they paid $335, it seems like they overpaid.
- Liquor Wars: Glazer's, a liquor distributor has been in a lobbying fueled-feud with Major brands, another liquor distributor. In April, Glazer's sprung up as a major lobbyist, spending about $5,000 on gifts. Compare that to the organization's counterpart, Major Brands, who spent only $32 on gifts. Those numbers discount the amount spent on lobbyists themselves, and it is very possible that gifts were sourced through a firm instead. The Missouri Times has covered the debate.
- A Communal Apron? A few weeks ago, we pointed out the problems with Missouri's lobbying system -- most obviously the ease with which legislators can keep their names off disclosures while still keeping the gift. In April, the Association of Missouri Electric Cooperatives bought an apron as a gift. The disclosure didn't name an individual legislator, instead designating it as going to "the Entire General Assembly." Under Missouri statute, the group designation is supposed to be reserved for instances in which every legislator partakes in the gift, or is at the very least invited in writing (the Missouri Ethics Commission asks for no proof). Perhaps all 197 members will take turns wearing the apron? Perhaps it's in a communal cooking area?
- Sweet Tooth Update: As we covered last month, Senator Brad Lager has received an odd amount of jelly beans and M&Ms for his office this year, and April continued the trend. In that month, Lager received $172.18 for the candy, bringing the total to nearly $600. The candy was bought by James R Moody and Associates and (somewhat ironically) Consumer Healthcare Products Association.
St. Louis Public Radio has launched a new data-oriented project that will be keeping track of all the money Missouri legislators receive from lobbyists. In our interactive graphic, you can see every gift a legislator has received.
If you notice something that sticks out to you, send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org
Follow Chris McDaniel on Twitter: @csmcdaniel