The Missouri Ethics Commission dismissed an ethics complaint against First Lobbyist Andrew Blunt Sept. 1, according to a statement on the Commission's website.
The Ethics Commission provides little useful information in its listing of actions or in its news releases, but if memory serves me correctly, the complaint was filed by the Missouri Democratic Party following a lobbyist-funded spring break junket taken by nine legislators to Hot Springs, Ark. Initial AP reports indicated that the bill for the trip was footed by Blunt, son of Seventh District Congressman Roy Blunt, and brother of Governor Matt Blunt and other lobbyists. The trip was listed on the disclosure forms of the other lobbyists, but not on Blunt's form. In fact, Blunt has filed seven no-expenditure forms for the first seven months of 2005.
The lobbyists the AP article said paid for the trip, including Blunt, have clients who include the hospital associations, the tobacco companies, the big-time poultry producers, and other big business interests. To see their influence on our legislators, all we have to do is look at what their priorities have been during the 2005 session.
Among the Republicans who took the trip (there were no Democrats) were House Speaker Rod Jetton, and Marilyn Ruestman, Joplin. Ms. Ruestman told The Joplin Globe that she stayed only night in Hot Springs and paid for her own hotel room. The only thing she did not pay for was her meal, she added.
The Globe article read, "Ruestman said she did not see the meal as being any different from one a lobbyist would purchase for a legislator in Jefferson City."
As I noted in an earlier Turner Report, the sad thing is she really doesn't understand that it is a problem.