I have been waiting in vain for The Joplin Globe to follow up on its earlier report on area legislators and lobbyists. Today's edition did have a follow-up on the lobbyist situation, but Globe reporters have still not explained why this issue should be of great importance.
I have written time after time about the incredible amount of gifts, including free gambling trips that casino interests have bought for Rep. Steve Hunter, R-Joplin, but at least Hunter's are all listed on the lobbyist disclosure forms.
A far more insidious route has been taken by Sen. Gary Nodler, R-Joplin. Anyone who read the Globe's earlier article probably thought Nodler was pretty much holding the line, since he had only accepted $474.33 in gifts, far less than Hunter, Ron Richard, or Bryan Stevenson, and slightly less than Marilyn Ruestman.
Why accept trinkets and trips when you can get the lobbyists to fork over cold, hard cash? That, as The Turner Report noted on July 16, is how Nodler has been keeping the machinery for his re-election campaign lubricated. Let me repeat a portion of that post:
A review of campaign committee disclosure forms on file with the Missouri Ethics Commission, shows that in the past year Nodler has received $2,100 in contributions from registered lobbyists and another $600 from a lobbyist's wife.
The most recent disclosure form shows Nodler receiving the following amounts from lobbyists:
-$6oo from Mark Rhoads, who among other clients, represents the Missouri Riverboat Gaming Association, AT&T, and the Insurance Coalition.
-$150 from J. Scott Marrs, who lists the Missouri Hospital Association, city of Springfield, Southwest Missouri State University, Bass Pro, Springfield Public Schools, and Springfield City Utilities among his clients.
-$150 from Gary Sharpe, lobbyist for Missouri Association of Elementary School Principals, Missouri Association of School Administrators, and Missouri Council of School Administrators.
-$250 from Penman & Winton, a lobbying firm. Lobbyists Scott Penman and David Winton represent Southwestern Bell (SBC) and BSC Healthcare Systems.
-$250 from Burch & Associates, the lobbying firm operated by former State Rep. Jerry Burch, who represents Missouri Hospital Association, Southwest Missouri State University, Greene County Commission, Springfield City Utilities, and the Branson/Lakes Area Chamber of Commerce.
-$150 from Kyna Iman, lobbyist for Missouri Southern State University
-$100 from Douglas Burnett, who represents the Association of Missouri Electric Cooperatives, Missouri Motor Carriers Association, and Boone County
-$100 from William E. Shoehigh, lobbyist for the Apollo Group, Dell, and Microsoft
During the October 2004 filing, Nodler received $175 from Iman, $175 from The Swain Group, a lobbying firm that represents Citizens Healthcare Association, Kansas City Chiefs, Missouri Energy Corp., and CenturyTel.
During that time period, Nodler also received the maximum $600 from Sharon Beshore, wife of Lance Beshore, a registered lobbyist for Leggett & Platt.
Those contributions are among the $51,970.34 Nodler has in his campaign war chest, according to the just released disclosure report. Some interesting names pop up on the donor list.
Keith Burdick, Jenks, Okla., the chief financial officer and a partner in Xcaliber, a recently formed tobacco company that derives 98 percent of its money from the sale of Echo-brand cigarettes gave Nodler $600. Burdick's company has been fighting the Oklahoma legislature, saying that only previously established companies should have to abide by the federal settlement with tobacco companies. A decision like that could mean hundreds of thousands of dollars for Xcaliber.
Harrah's Operating Co. Inc., the casino company, donated the maximum $600.
The Apollo Group, the company that runs internet education for adults under such names as University of Phoenix Online, donated $500.
Nodler has also been playing a mean game of PAC Man, receiving money from numerous political action committees, including:
Missouri Mortgage Bankers $600, Missouri Council of School Administrators $150, Missouri Medical PAC $600, Missouri School Boards Association $300, American Insurance Association Missouri PAC $300, General Motors, Washington, D. C. $600, Missouri Bankers Association Capital Region $600, Motor Carriers Public Affairs $600, Associated General Contractors Missouri PAC $300, MPCA (The Missouri Petroleum Marketers and Convenience Store Association) $600, MMH PAC, Jefferson City $400