For some, Missouri lawmakers’ ethics push still has a long way to go

After high-profile scandals rocks the Missouri State Capitol last year, lawmakers made reconfiguring the state’s ethics laws a priority. Now that the legislative session is over, some lawmakers are saying that despite the progress made, they still need to do a lot more when they return to Jefferson City next year.

Lobbyist-paid events (and, more specifically, how lobbyists pay for lawmakers’ individual meals) have received more scrutiny than usual this year. Some lawmakers sought to ban lobbyist freebies as a way to clean up Jefferson City’s atmosphere.

But state Sen. David Pearce, R-Warrensburg, says the focus of this year’s ethics push is misplaced. He has a hard time getting worked up, he says, about the food lobbyists buy when legislators didn’t seriously consider capping campaign contributions.

“What we’ve passed with ethics reform is meaningless. It’s not worth the paper it’s printed on,” said Pearce. “I mean, we’re more concerned about if a lobbyist buys me a $40 lunch, but that same lobbyist can give me a $1 million to my campaign. So that shows how out of balance our discussion is.”

Even with the legislative session over, the ethics discussion may extend into the November election. Missouri voters could soon decide on a constitutional amendment capping campaign contributions.

Read more: St. Louis Public Radio


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