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Leading Recipient of Lobbyist Gifts Decides Two Weeks Before Election Day That He Wants to Ban Lobbyist Gifts

Reps. Rowden and Jones in $250 seats at Busch Stadium this May

Compliments of a lobbyist for Major Brands Premium Beverage Distributors

Rep Caleb Rowden (R-Columbia), who “personally has accepted more lobbyist gifts in his first term than any other member of the Boone County delegation,” announced Tuesday that he now supports a total ban on lobbyist gifts.

In unrelated news, Election Day is Tuesday, November 4.

We’re thrilled to see Rowden profess to come around on reforming the disgusting culture of Jefferson City, where freebies flow to politicians by the bellyfull. But his record of broken promises and sham 'reform' proposals leave us skeptical. 

Rowden is the #1 Recipient of Lobbyist Gifts in Boone County

As Rudi Keller notes in his story on Tuesday’s candidate forum, Rowden is the top local recipient of lobbyist gifts. He got off to a fast start with the gift grabbing too, coming in at #2 for Boone County in his very first session in Jefferson City, lapping established incumbents.  

Rowden had multiple dinners with the lobbyist for the RAI tobacco as he was supporting tobacco-industry supported language on his e-cigarette legislation. (The same company sent Rowden a $1,000 check the day his bill to exempt electronic cigarettes from tobacco regulations passed the Missouri House.)

In January, he dismissed SOS Jason Kander’s proposal for a full gift ban -- the policy he now supports -- as “a bill to gain some hoopla.” 

See a full list of Rowden's accepted gifts here

Rowden promised in January to stop taking free sports tickets from lobbyists, but quickly broke that promise.

In January 2014, Rowden told the Tribune “he has stopped accepting tickets and has instead purchased season tickets for the sports he enjoys.”

Not quite.

Just hours before he said he’d sworn off free tickets, he and his wife had accepted free Mizzou basketball tickets from a lobbyist for Rex Sinquefield. In July, a Comcast lobbyist paid for Rowden's ticket to a Springfield Cardinals game. And in May, sitting in $250 seats at Busch Stadium with his wife, fellow Rep. Caleb Jones, and Jones’ wife, Rowden audaciously tweeted out pictures of himself at the game enjoying the largesse of his lobbyist benefactor.

The total disclosed cost for the two tickets Rowden accepted with his wife?  A cool $586. Not a bad evening, especially when someone else who wants your help passing (or not passing) legislation is footing the bill.

Rowden’s previous ‘reform’ proposal would allow each and every Jefferson City lobbyist to spend $3,000 per year on gifts and entertainment for every legislator.

No, really:

The bill would limit lobbyists to spending no more than $50 per gift and $750 per quarter on each legislator. In other words, each legislator still could receive up to $3,000 a year in gifts from each registered lobbyist.

So you see why we’re a little skeptical of Rowden’s recent conversion on lobbyist gifts. But still, this is a step in the right direction.  

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Caleb Rowden's Lobbyist Gifts, 2013-2014