Thu April 11, 2013
Who Are Missouri's Biggest Lobbyists?
In the second chart in our "By The Numbers" project, you can see who the biggest lobbyists are. The top is probably a name you will recognize.
If you take a quick glance, you'll see there's a lot of green, much more than the red or blue. Green means that the gift isn't disclosed as going to a specific legislator, that it's instead going to the general assembly or one of its committees.
As we detailed yesterday, this allows the true recipients to be hidden. For example, if a lobbyist takes out two members of the House Budget Committee, the lobbyist doesn't have to disclose it to the Missouri Ethics Commission as going to those two legislators. In this hypothetical situation, the lobbyist could say it went to the House Budget Committee even though the committee has 30 members.
The only rule is that the lobbyist is supposed to invite all the members of the committee. It could be as simple as a posting in the Capitol. No proof is required.
As a result, far more goes to committees and the general assembly than to individual legislators. About 75 percent of the $338,000 that lobbyists spent on legislators was disclosed as going to the general assembly or various committees.
This is an issue we will re-visit throughout this project.
St. Louis Public Radio is launching 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.