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Mo. Legislators Took $730,000 In Gifts From Lobbyists During Session

(via Flickr/brianandjaclyn)

With May's lobbying numbers in, and Missouri's legislative session completely behind us, we now have a complete picture of Missouri's lobbying system.

With the final tally, legislators took in $731,000 from lobbyists hoping to gain influence. All of this took place in just five months.

May's Findings

As usual, the vast majority of May's lobbyist spending went to groups instead of individual legislators. Lobbyists spent about $70,000 on groups and committees, which don't disclose the recipients. This is a practice we delved into before.

A few noteworthy gifts in May:

  • Taking Them Out To The Ballgame: Lobbyists took legislators to plenty of Cardinals games this year. In May alone, in fact, lobbyists spent more than $5,500 on tickets to the games. It's unclear if peanuts and cracker jacks were provided, or if the legislators care if they ever go back.
  • Mum's The Word: For Mother's Day, female legislators received $600 worth of flowers, paid for by a variety of lobbyists.
  • Milkshakes Brought House Democrats To The Yard: The House Democratic Caucus received about $230 worth of milkshakes from two unions: the United Transportation Union and Missouri AFL-CIO.
  • A Piece Of The Pie: The Missouri Truckers Association paid $1,650 for "Pie Day" in the state capitol.
  • Luck Be A Legislator: Democratic Representative Keith English received a free stay at Hollywood Casino, worth $210, courtesy of Penn National Gaming.
  • Here's The Kicker: The Missouri State Firefighters and Fred Dreiling LLC paid $500 for a "House and Senate Boots Scoot and Boogie Event at Memorial Park." Admittedly, I have absolutely no idea what a "Boots Scoot and Boogie" is, but I'm told it's a country music song.

Analysis of 2013's Lobbying

Now that the legislative session is over, here are a few facts about the year:

  • There were more than 8,000 gifts from lobbyists this session. The average price of the gift was a little more than $90.
  • The best month for legislators, in terms of how much they received, was February. The worst was May.

  • The vast majority of lobbyist gifts were for meals.

  • Republicans received more than Democrats overall, but there are also more of them.

  • Nearly a third of the gifts lobbyists gave included no description of what the gift was.

Although the session is over, we are still going to keep track of incoming gifts. If previous years are any indication, lobbyist gifts keep coming even if the legislators aren't in Jefferson City.
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.

If you notice something that sticks out to you, send me an email at cmcdaniel@stlpublicradio.org

Follow Chris McDaniel on Twitter@csmcdaniel

Send questions and comments about this story to feedback@stlpublicradio.org.