No lobbyist gifts for state lawmakers, but local officials in Missouri still get freebies

Busch Stadium during a 2011 game. Photo by Chris Lee,

Published in St. Louis Post-Dispatch
May 21, 2020
by Kurt Erickson

JEFFERSON CITY — Although Missouri lawmakers are banned from accepting all but the smallest gifts from lobbyists, local officials continue to rake in freebies from companies doing business with cities and counties.
A review of reports filed with state ethics regulators shows tickets to Cardinals and Blues games remain a popular staple with lobbyists and local officials.

Among those in St. Louis City Hall, Alderman Annie Rice accepted a $75 ticket to a Blues hockey game in February as part of a giveaway by the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers.
At the county level, Winston Calvert, chief of staff to St. Louis County Executive Sam Page, received tickets to Cardinals games from Ameren. Rochelle Walton Gray, who represents District 4 on the County Council, received $1,021 in party supplies, primarily from Ameren.

Berkeley Mayor Ted Hoskins also got baseball tickets worth nearly $300 from Ameren.
The information is included on reports filed with the Missouri Ethics Commission that outline spending by registered lobbyists. The Post-Dispatch reviewed spending between July 1 and May 1.

Under a change in the state Constitution approved by voters in 2018, lobbyists are banned from giving out gifts or meals to state lawmakers worth more than $5.

But that prohibition, as well as a new proposed constitutional amendment approved by the Legislature last week, did not include mayors, city council members and other local officials.

Rep. Shamed Dogan, R-Ballwin, has introduced a local official lobbyist gift ban for the past two years, but it has not advanced in the Legislature.
Walton Gray said she sees no conflict in accepting gifts from Ameren.

“We rarely have any ordinances that would be related to utilities,” Walton Gray said.

Walton Gray said she supports the idea of adding local officials to the ban.

Attempts to reach Rice and Calvert were not successful.
Although lobbyist spending largely targets St. Louis-area officials, mayors in other parts of Missouri also are wined and dined.



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