Impact of Missouri’s ‘revolving-door’ lobbyist law questioned

Under a new law passed by lawmakers and signed by Gov. Jay Nixon, legislators must wait six months after the end of their term before they can return to the Capitol to become lobbyists.

The “revolving-door” ban, which was passed as part of an ethics reform package after several scandals in 2015, doesn’t go into effect until Aug. 28. If a current lawmaker resigns before then, the waiting period doesn’t apply to them.

To supporters of the law, allowing a legislator to enter the capitol one day as an elected official and return the next as a lobbyist erodes public trust and runs the risk of corrupting policy.

“Public officials should not use their positions for private profit,” Rep. Jay Barnes, R-Jefferson City, said during a debate on the bill.

Opponents of the legislation, however, argue it is just a window dressing, and what ultimately was accomplished this legislative session in the way of ethics reform will do little to change the culture in Jefferson City. Other critics of a revolving-door law make the argument that someone could return to the capitol with a consulting job for a lobbying firm or as a “government affairs director” of an organization while waiting to register as a lobbyist.

“There’s no perfect bill that’ going to legislate morality,” Rep. Jeremy LaFaver, D-Kansas City, said. “There’s always going to be the opportunity to game the system.”

Read more: Kansas City Star

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