The Jeff City Gift Culture, by the Numbers

Missouri Ethics Commission (MEC) records show that state legislators, statewide officials, judges and local officials have accepted more than $10,810,500 in gifts from lobbyists since 2004. On average, that’s $900,000 — every year — in free meals, booze, trips, lodging and other gifts. Almost all of these gifts go to members of the General Assembly and their staff members.

One More Teenage Hero Who Deserves Support

At Progress Missouri, we know that heroes are defined by their courage in the face of adversity. Last week, one hero came into the spotlight, for taking a stand for who she is and what she deserves. That hero is Lila Perry.

Lila Perry only asked to be treated like every other girl at Hillsboro High School in Hillsboro, Missouri. Lila, who identifies as transgender, was tired of using a unisex faculty bathroom, so she went into the girls’ bathroom. The result- over one hundred of her peers walked out of school in protest.

Jeff City Gift Takers, Ranked (New Data)

The Missouri Ethics Commission today released lobbyist gift data for July 2015. Rep. Mike Colona (D-St. Louis) now tops all gift takers for the year. 

Missouri GOPers reaffirm strong opposition to ALEC's 'Right to Work' attacks

Opposition to ALEC's so-called 'right to work' attacks is and always has been bipartisan. Pushed by out-of-state corporate interests, 'right to work' legislation would harm all working Missourians. This is why Republican legislators have stood against it. Recently, Representatives Linda Black (R-Park Hills), Kathie Conway (R-St. Charles), and Galen Higdon (R-St.

MEC: ALEC junket details improperly hidden from public

The Missouri Ethics Commission (MEC) ruled Friday that free food and drinks provided to former Speaker John Diehl, former Speaker Tim Jones, Sen. Ed Emery, Rep. Sue Allen and Sen. Wayne Wallingford during the 2014 American Legislative Exchange Council junket in Dallas, TX were improperly reported as ‘group expenditures.’ The MEC’s consent order and Letter of Concern indicating that “there were reasonable grounds to believe violations of the law occurred” are posted on the Commission’s website.

The MEC investigation and ruling centered on a “Missouri Night” dinner during the August 2014 American Legislative Exchange Council junket and meetings in Dallas.  The total bill for the meal at the Dallas Chop House was an outrageous $5,686, split between the five legislators, two of their spouses, fifteen lobbyists and fifteen other unidentified individuals. Lobbyists with interests before the General Assembly paid for the extravagant evening.

The free food and drinks provided to Diehl, Jones, Allen, Emery and Wallingford were originally reported as going to the "Entire General Assembly," even though the lobbyists paying for the meal knew exactly which legislators were in Dallas at the luxury steakhouse. Incredibly, some of the lobbyists in question reported the small cab fares for specific legislators before attempting to hide the much larger cost of the meal from those same legislators' gift reports.

New Study Reconfirms Need for Living Wages in KC and St. Louis

The Economic Policy Institute just released an update for their Family Budget Calculator, a measuring tool of economic security across America.

When accounting for geographic differences and basic necessities, such as housing, transportation, child care, and health care, the report concludes there is “nowhere in the country where a minimum-wage worker-even a single adult without children-earns enough to meet the requirements of their local family budget.”

Kansas City and St. Louis families are not immune from the struggle of trying to make ends meet with a low paying job.

In Kansas City, two parents who are raising 2 children need an income of $5,242 a month or almost $63,000 a year to barely get by day to day.

In St. Louis, that same family would need to make $5,258 a month or nearly $63,100 a year.

Missouri ALEC Co-Chair: Missouri taking cues on voter id from ALEC

When Republicans start talking about "Voter Fraud," we know it's a dog whistle to an extremist base that has little regard for equal access to ballot boxes. In Ed Emery's latest video touting how awesome he thinks ALEC is, Missouri's ALEC co-chair and State Senator talks about one of his House colleagues getting new ideas from Texas to "control voter fraud."

Ed Emery: I was just talking to one of my colleagues from the Missouri House, he had dinner at a table with a group from Texas which is doing something on controlling voter fraud. And it's a new idea, well, it's new to me, it's a great workable idea and he's already directed his staff, and told them to start working with House Research on drafting legislation.

If this idea is anything like the Voter ID legislation that Texas passed, Sen. Emery and his yet-unnamed House colleague should take a long hard look at what's happened since the bill passed: it has discriminated against women, students and minorities. The bill even prohibited a 93 year-old veteran from voting because he no longer drives. Worst of all, if Emery and his legislative colleague are looking to use Texas' voter ID bill as a model, a bill that closely matches ALEC's model legislation, they should be forewarned that portions of it have been thrown out by the courts for... you guessed it, violating the Voting Rights Act.

Senate President Resigns to Join Sinquefield Lobby Shop

The effort to enact ethics reform last session was downright pathetic. It wasn't prioritized and when meager reforms were passed the House and Senate couldn't come to an agreement on lobbyist gift limits so the bills were stalled. It's hardly shocking another politician has gone through the revolving door from elected official to private lobbyist.

Missouri Senate President Pro Tem Tom Dempsey (R-St. Charles) just last Friday resigned his elected position, and this week started work at a Clayton-based lobbying firm called Gate Way Group. It just so happens, Rex Sinquefield, a large donor to Dempsey in the past, is their premier client.

Bill Lant has new conspiracy theory, and it reminds him of Hitler

Rep. Bill Lant (R-Pineville) tries "very hard not to be a conspiracy theorist." Or so he says in his most recent newsletter.

Of course, he goes on to lament the "decisions [...] to teach much less history than we used to." And posing questions like, "when governments are doing the same things that have led to World Wars in the past doesn't it make sense to question their decisions?"

It gets even better when Lant expresses his fear of the government taking everyone's guns away.

Our government is attempting to confiscate guns from elderly people on the premise that they are unable to handle their finances so they shouldn't be able to own guns. What? Did someone add that to the 2nd amendment when we weren't looking? Gun confiscation of any kind is wrong! This is the kind of stuff that Hitler and Mussolini did.

Hmm and he said he was trying hard not to be a conspiracy theorist?



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