New senator wants to cut off ‘gravy train’ of lobbyist money to lawmakers

Posted December 13, 2012 at 12:22 pm

by Brendan Cullerton

Senator-elect Scott Sifton, D-Affton, pre-filed a bill for the 2013 legislative session that would ban gifts from lobbyists to elected officials’ legislative staff and family members.

“There’s no reason we should be doing it,” Sifton said. “Taxpayers already pay legislators $104 a day for every day in session for meals and lodging and that should be sufficient.”

Sifton said the practice of accepting gifts is widespread in the legislature.

“There are a couple dozen people like me who don’t accept any gifts. There’s probably a middle of the pack if you will, of folks that take some but not a ton, and then there are a few that seem to take an awful lot.”

Sen. Kurt Schaefer, R-Columbia, said he doesn’t accept lobbyist gifts and elections tend to weed out those who take gifts from special interest groups.

“In 2008, in my campaign, that was a major issue, and I believe people make up their mind themselves whether somebody is captive or not,” Schaefer said.

According to the Missouri Ethics Commission, lobbyists spent $275 on meals, but no gifts, for Schaefer in 2012. Lobbyists spent no money on Sifton this year.