He's back to his old tricks.
Rep. Steve Hunter, R-Joplin, apparently went on a legislative fact-finding mission June 9, courtesy of Betsy Morgan, lobbyist for Ameristar Casino. Lobbyist disclosure forms posted today on the Missouri Ethics Commission website indicate Ms. Morgan spent $151.03 on travel for Hunter.
Of that total, $75.52 was credited to the Missouri Beverage Association, with the other $75.51 credited to Ameristar Casino. That gift brought Hunter's total to $2,934.29 for the first six months of 2006, more than the other five Joplin-area legislators combined.
The only other Joplin-area representative to even accepted a lobbyist gift during June, according to the reports, was Kevin Wilson, R-Neosho, who accepted a $5.16 meal from Kevin Vossen, representing AT&T. So far, Wilson has accepted $384.19 from lobbyists this year.
The other Joplin-area representatives and their amounts for the first six months are:
Ed Emery, R-Lamar, $102.51; Ron Richard, R-Joplin, $720.20; Marilyn Ruestman, R-Joplin, $101.22; and Bryan Stevenson, R-Webb City, $837.
Allowing Ameristar Casino to foot the bill for his travel is nothing new for Hunter, as has been pointed out numerous times in Turner Report posts going back to 2004, including this blast from the past from the Sept. 25, 2004, Turner Report:
"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. 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."
Apparently, everything old is new again.