If Rep. Steve Hunter, R-Joplin, had not received a single meal or gift from a lobbyist until April 15, he still would have received more gifts than 144 of the 163 state legislators.
This was made possible by a flurry of May gifts, filed in a second report from Hunter. As I mentioned in the June 6 Turner Report, at that time, Hunter had claimed just one lobbyist gift, $32 in meals, food and beverage from Heath Clarkston, lobbyist for the Home Builders Association of Missouri.
Since that time, Hunter has filed a report with the Missouri Ethics Commission, saying he received $971.35 in gifts during May.
Surprisingly enough, six of those gifts came before May 10, the day he received the meal from Clarkston.
The month's freeloading fest began May 3 when Samuel G. Licklider, who lists Empire District Electric Company as a client, spent $167.50 on "meals, food and beverage." Apparently, Hunter did not have to pay for any of his meals on that day since Kyna Iman, Missouri Southern State University lobbyist is credited with paying $30 for "meals, food and beverage" and Carl Degen, lobbyist for Associated Builders and Contractors paid an additional $97.38 for "meals, food and beverage." Apparently, no Big Mac and a coke for the Joplin Republican.
After receiving $294.88 for meals on May 3, Hunter topped that in one fell swoop the next day when Steve Jackson, whose clients include Argosy Gaming and the St. Louis Cardinals bought Hunter $331.29 in "meals, food and beverage."
Meals were back down to a manageable total on May 9 when Ginger Steinmetz, lobbyist for the city of Joplin, paid $20. The next day, it was even more reasonable when James W. Kistler paid $7.23 for a meal for Hunter. That would seem odd since Kistler is a lobbyist for Associated Industries of Missouri. As revealed earlier this week in The Turner Report, Hunter works for Associated Industries of Missouri, a lobbying organization, as a recruiter. Apparently, he must have recruited someone who could buy him lunch.
After Clarkston's $32.91 on the same day, Hunter received "meals, food and beverage" worth $53.10 from Craig Overfelt, representing the Missouri Bankers Association. His report for the remainder of the month includes $168 in entertainment from Thomas Irwin, lobbyist for the St. Louis Regional Chamber and Growth Association and $30.94 from James Farrell, who represents a number of St. Louis interests.
The late activity continued a pattern started early in the 2005 legislative session by Hunter when he accepted $56 worth of entertainment from University of Missouri lobbyist Allen James Snider; and $159.09 in "meals, food and beverage" from Robert W. Wilson, who lobbies for numerous interests across the state in January.
Hunter's February reports included $112.59 in "meals, food and beverage" on Feb. 14 from J. Scott Marrs, lobbyist for the Missouri Hospital Association and the city of Springfield, and $188.94 in "travel" from Ameristar Casino lobbyist William Gamble on Feb. 17. Hunter has a long record of receiving gifts from Ameristar, which I will explore shortly.
Hunter received no gifts from lobbyists in March, according to the Ethics Commission reports April gifts included $85 for entertainment and $39.75 for meals, food and beverage on April 2 from Jeffrey Kipping, Cingular Wireless lobbyist. Two days later, Kipping provided Hunter with $85 in entertainment and $16.41 in meals, food and beverage.
The April reports also featured $112.59 in meals, food and beverage from Sam Barbee, Missouri Automobile Dealers Association on April 15, and $118.93 in meals, food and beverage from Chris Liese, whose clients include the Isle of Capri Casinos on April 21.
Ameristar invested in Hunter in 2004
This is not the first year that Hunter has been a happy recipient of lobbyists' largesse. The following posting was made on The Turner Report on Sept. 25, 2004:
One of the important duties of every state legislator is taking fact-finding missions to see first-hand some of the problems that face his constituents.
Apparently, 127th District State Representative Steve Hunter takes that obligation seriously. Though the nature of his fact-finding missions was not spelled out in documents filed with the Missouri Ethics Commission, Hunter accepted travel expenses from lobbyist Sarah Topp on three occasions this year. He accepted travel expenses from lobbyist William Gamble one other time.
Though Ms. Topp and Gamble represent a number of clients, including the Missouri Sheriffs Association, the Ethics Commission records indicate the travel money to Hunter came courtesy of the Ameristar Casino Hotel in Kansas City. Ms. Topp and Gamble also represent all of the interests of Ameristar Casinos, a Las Vegas-based company which only recently moved its operations into this state.
On Jan. 22, Hunter accepted $91.32 in travel expenses, according to Ethics Commission records. He also accepted $91.32 in travel expenses, indicating he most likely went to the same place, as well as $125 for meals, food, and beverage from Ms. Topp on Feb. 20, $138 in travel expenses from her on March 8, and $455 for meals, food and beverage on March 20.
Hunter accepted an additional $250 in travel expenses from Gamble on Aug. 28, according to the Ethics Commission records. Legislators are allowed to amend the records if they pay the lobbyists back, though the original expenditure remains. The Ethics Commission records show that none of Ameristar Casinos' gifts to Hunter have been paid back.
Hunter was the only legislator to receive gifts from Ms. Topp in February and the only representative (there were three senators) who received gifts in March, records indicate.
The $1,150.64 Hunter received from the gambling interest is more money than any other area legislator has received from all lobbyists' gifts combined.
And the gifts just keep coming.Ethics Commission records indicate Hunter has been receiving "meals, food, and beverage" from a number of lobbyists on a fairly regular basis. These include:-$84, Jan. 22 from William F. Waris and Ginger Steinmetz. Waris represents a number of health concerns, while Ms. Steinmetz is a lobbyist for the city of Joplin.-$9.60 the same day from Michael Goessling, another lobbyist for health and insurance companies.-$65 Feb. 17 from James Kistler representing Associated Industries of Missouri, $43.69 March 2 from Kent Gaines. who represents Premium Standard Farms and Monsanto, among other interests.-$124.16 on Feb. 18, and $67.26 on March 16 from Tom Rackers, who represents insurance interests.-$30 March 30 from Kyna Iman, Missouri Southern State University lobbyist.-$55.96 April 13 from Samuel Licklider, Empire District Electric lobbyist-$35.50 the same day from David Martin, also representing Empire District.-$64.50 April 26 from Greg Johnson, an insurance lobbyist.-$46.38 May 5 from Daniel Mehan of the Missouri Chamber of Commerce.-$70 May 14 from Randy Scherr, city of Joplin.
Hunter also received $120.20 for "entertainment" from John Kristan Jones, an MCI lobbyist, on June 24, according to Ethics Commission records. He received $60 for "entertainment" from a Matthew Kohly on Jan. 24. Information on who Kohly represents wasn't available.With the legislature in session for approximately 75 days between January and early May, Hunter received gifts of "meals, food, and beverage' from lobbyists on 30 days.
Hunter also topped GOP in 2004
In January, I reported that Hunter received more gifts from lobbyists than any other Republican during the 2004 legislative session. He actually did not receive as much this time, according to Ethics Commission records.
Here is what was featured in The Turner Report at the beginning of the year:
The final figures are in for 2004 and 127th District Representative Steve Hunter completed his meteoric rise at the top of the state's Republican party.
According to statistics available from the Missouri Ethics Commission, no Republican accepted more gifts from lobbyists than Hunter during the past calendar year. Hunter's reports indicate that he accepted $3,322.14 worth of meals, travel expenses, and other considerations from lobbyists, with most of the gifts being connected to lobbyists representing Ameristar Casinos.
The gifts didn't stop coming when the legislative session ended in May, according to reports filed by Hunter with the commission. He has received $982.96 worth of gifts since June 1.Two Democratic representatives, Rodney Hubbard of St. Louis with $4,119.29, and Connie Johnson of Jefferson City with $3,468.53, were the only ones to top Hunter's figures. The Carl Junction Republican barely edged out new Speaker of the House Rod Jetton of Marble Hill, who received $3,096.06.