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Blunt implements code of conduct for office staff

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Gov. Matt Blunt (UPI file photo)

By AP/KWMU

Jefferson City, MO – People working for Governor Blunt now have an official code of conduct to follow. The code ranges from whether staffers accept gifts to how they should talk with journalists. The new code applies to the governor's entire staff.

Blunt spokeswoman Jessica Robinson says the manual has been in the works for nine months. It forbids staff members from using their public positions for personal gain.

Accepting gifts is generally barred, with several exceptions. Employees could accept anything given for a nonbusiness purpose by a personal friend, or items it would be awkward to turn down -- like T-shirts and coffee mugs from organizations. It also would be OK to accept travel and lodging for a "fact finding or educational trip."

There's also a ban on taking food, with soft drinks, coffee and doughnuts exempted.

The code also bars anyone except a few high-level people from talking to the media.

Blunt claims he's the first governor to ban lobbyist gifts. "The professional conduct required by this code and lobbyist gift ban will help strengthen the confidence that must exist between the people and their government, and sends a clear signal that the business of Missourians is the highest priority of this office," Blunt said in a written statement.

Spokeswoman Robinson said there was no connection to the lobbyist scandals in Washington, nor to a federal investigation into the way contractors have run license offices under Blunt's administration.

Robinson, according to the employee manual, is one of the few people authorized to speak to the media. It states that the governor, chief of staff, communications director or press secretary will do all communication with the media and stresses the word "all" by both underlining it and printing it in bold ink.

It makes an exception for senior staff to talk to the media only in certain preapproved instances. Employees who violate policy by talking to the media could be disciplined, even fired.

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