Two area reps get no freebies from lobbyists

Monday, October 15, 2001

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. -- For two state representatives from Southeast Missouri, there is no such thing as a free lunch.

While their colleagues in the region's delegation to the General Assembly benefited from the largess of registered lobbyists, Republican state Reps. David Schwab of Jackson and Lanie Black of Charleston didn't receive so much as a dime's worth of free meals, entertainment and gifts.

But lobbyists spent a combined $23,711.71 from December through August on the other 12 state representatives and three state senators serving Southeast Missouri, according to lobbyist expenditure reports filed with the Missouri Ethics Commission.

Black said he hasn't accepted freebies from lobbyists because of a promise he made to voters when he first ran for House of Representatives in 1998.

"I think lobbyists have a tremendous contribution to make in the political process, and a lot of them I consider friends," Black said. "But after that pledge, I couldn't turn around and justify taking money from them."

Has attended dinners

However, Black said the report showing no spending on him by lobbyists is somewhat misleading. Black said he has attended dinners and other functions paid for by lobbyists to which the whole House or specific groups of lawmakers were invited.

"In my mind, that zero figure in some respects is a little bit shaky," Black said.

Such spending isn't attributed to individual lawmakers on lobbyists' expenditure reports.

Topping the list of Southeast Missouri legislators who most benefited from lobbyists was state Rep. Dan Ward, D-Bonne Terre. Lobbyists spent $7,335.99 on Ward during the nine-month period examined, nearly triple the $2,648.54 spent on the next man on the list, House Majority Floor Leader Wayne Crump, D-Potosi.

Ward, whose district covers portions of Ste. Genevieve and St. Francois counties, said his total was so high because lobbyists assisted him with tuition and travel expenses so he could attend a three-week course at Harvard University's John F. Kennedy School of Government in July. According the report, lobbyists gave him at least $3,900 toward those costs.

Ward said he paid most of the approximately $10,000 cost to attend the school, where students examine a wide range of governmental issues, out of his personal and campaign accounts.

Try to argue positions

Lobbyists don't expect lawmakers on whom they spend money to vote how their clients want but do try to ensure access in order to argue their positions, Ward said.

"I find lobbyists more informative than anything," Ward said. "I've never had one of them say, 'Hey, you owe me.'"

Senate President Pro Tem Peter Kinder, R-Cape Girardeau, ranked seventh on the list of Southeast Missouri lawmakers and first among area senators, receiving $1,471.07 worth of meals, entertainment and gifts.

That figure is about one-third of that spent on Kinder's House counterpart, Speaker Jim Krieder, D-Nixa. Lobbyists spent $4,252.98 on Krieder during the same period.

Kinder's total was fourth among the 34 senators. State Sen. David Klarich, R-Clayton, led the chamber with $3,644.84 being spent on him.

mpowers@semissourian.com

(573) 635-4608

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