Ah, the summer recess. A time for legislators to unwind, have a few cold ones, and get taken to baseball games by lobbyists.
Even though Missouri lawmakers won't return to Jefferson City until next week's veto session, lobbyists have continued to shower legislators with gifts through the dog days of summer. Lobbyists have spent about $100,000 on gifts since mid-May.
That brings the grand total for 2013 to $819,127.47.
As always, we'll highlight a few of the gifts and trends that raised our eyebrows, but you can explore every gift in our interactive graphic.
- The Legislative Body Is A Wonderland: Senate President Pro Tem Tom Dempsey received $135 in tickets to a John Mayer concert on June 19. For the whole year, legislators received well over $5,000 in tickets to concerts. I guess we'll keep waiting, waiting on the ethics rules to change.
- Making a Pitch: Baseball tickets were a common gift throughout the summer. In fact, lobbyists spent more than $11,000 on tickets to the games (some of them in suites). Once again, the Royals came up short, with legislators apparently favoring Cards games instead.
But when did legislators go?
- Starting 'Em Early: In July, Republican Rep. Todd Richardson received a baby present for his newborn daughter, courtesy of Stinson Morrison Hecker LLP. The gift was priced at $62.80. Congrats!
- Greens All Over: Numerous legislators were taken out to golf outings over the summer. In July, the Missouri Insurance Coalition spent $591 on golf for the Missouri legislature, but didn't name the lawmakers. They instead disclosed it as going to the "Entire General Assembly." Considering the course charges about $40 per person, it's unlikely the "Entire General Assembly" was treated. We've covered the problematic nature of the group designation before. For the whole summer, about $2,600 was spent on golf for lawmakers.
- Sand Dollars: One of the biggest lobbying groups, John Bardgett and Associates, bought beach balls for every member. The beach balls apparently have the JBA logo on them, and cost $1.09 apiece.
- Getting The Lead Out: Doe Run, one of the largest lead mining companies in the world, took nine lawmakers on a tour of their facilities and gave them lunch. A bill in the legislature would shield the company from costly punitive damage lawsuits. Gov. Jay Nixon vetoed the bill, but Republican House leadership has indicated that a veto-override is possible.
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