In just three months, Missouri lobbyists have spent more than $450,000 on gifts to state lawmakers.
St. Louis Public Radio notes a few of the gifts:
- March Madness: Legislators received about $7,000 in “entertainment” gifts (most of it for tickets) in March, coinciding with NCAA conference basketball tournaments and the beginning of March Madness. Total entertainment spending this year: $17,000.
- Bowling Tournament: In March, the Senate apparently had a bowling tournament sponsored by various lobbyists who foot the bill for the lanes, food, drinks, and even shirts.
- Sweet Tooth: So far this year, Senator Brad Lager has received about $450 worth of jelly beans, M&Ms and soda for his office, bought by James R Moody and Associates and (somewhat ironically) Consumer Healthcare Products Association. According to vigorous research by St. Louis Public Radio, you can buy about 50 lbs worth of jelly beans for that amount of money.
That’s a lot of jelly beans!
Former Missouri House Speaker Steve Tilley was a great friend to payday lenders during his time in office, racking up over $70,000 in donations from the industry. The Kansas City star reports that all that back-scratching is paying off: “Documents filed with the Missouri Ethics Commission show that Tilley recently became a lobbyist for the Online Lenders Alliance,” a payday lender trade association.
The revolving door spins again.
While many congressional Republicans have been tripping over themselves to get away from Missouri Senate candidate Rep. Todd Akin (R), a fundraising invitation obtained by Sunlight Foundation shows that K Street lobbyists may not share the same concerns.
He has three events scheduled in Washington, D.C. next week—a lunch and reception on Wednesday, October 3rd, and breakfast on Thursday, October 4th.
Payday lenders in Missouri have been fighting regulation for years—and they’ve been buying access and influence through campaign contributions. It’s all laid out in a new report from Public Campaign: “Indebted: How Payday Lenders Buy Political Influence In Missouri And Hurt Everyday People.”
A few key points from the report:
- The payday lending industry has spent more than $1 million over the last decade to influence Missouri state elections. Lobbyists and lobbying firms working for the industry have given at least another $648,460 to state campaigns.
- Campaign spending by the industry hit a decade high in the 2010 cycle, with at least $371,483 in contributions to Missouri politicians, four times more than in the beginning of the decade.
- In 2011, the Missouri House passed a bill that benefitted the payday industry by “capping” annual interest rates at 1,565 percent (HB 656), a hundred times higher than many credit cards. Members who voted for this pro-industry bill received nearly three times more payday money on average and nearly five times more altogether than members who voted in opposition.
Read the whole thing.