A Democratic candidate for the Missouri Senate is calling for a ban on all gifts from lobbyists to state lawmakers, and accusing his opponent of accepting more gifts and free meals over the past decade than any other Missouri legislator.
Scott Sifton (D, Affton) is a member of the Missouri House and is trying to unseat incumbent State Senator Jim Lembke (R, Lemay) in the 1st Senate District that covers most of South County. Sifton accuses Lembke of accepting 560 gifts over the past 10 years.
“It’s my understanding that the total value of lobbyist gifts that Senator Lembke has taken is approaching $30,000, and that’s just an extreme amount," Sifton said. "I think it calls into question what we’re there for.”
Sifton says if elected, he’ll file legislation that would ban lobbyist gifts to lawmakers, and to their staff and families. In response, Lembke says he’s focusing on creating jobs. He doesn’t deny Sifton's accusation, but suggests that the real problem is candidates who take huge checks from single donors.
“(Sifton) is the one that’s setting up the accusations that someone can be bought for a cheeseburger," Lembke said. "I think we should be more concerned about one special interest group giving a legislator 20, 30, 40, a hundred-thousand dollars.”
Sifton’s campaign finance reports show at least two five-figure contributions – $16,653.95 from the Missouri Democratic State Committee, and $25,000 from the Missouri Senate Democratic Campaign Committee. Lembke, meanwhile, received a check for $100,000 from the Missouri Senate Campaign Committee back in March. He also says Sifton has taken more than $60,000 from various trial lawyers.
More information on Lembke's and Sifton's respective campaigns can be found here.