In today's Tribune, Rosenbaum examines the relationship between politicians and lobbyists in Missouri. It is amazing to read about the lengths lobbyists go to when they wine and dine politicians...and the rationalizations provided by the politicians for accepting the freebies.
Among those who are unapologetic is the king of Missouri's freebies, Sen. Chuck Graham, D-Columbia:
Graham says his professional and personal relationships formed over food, drink, entertainment and travel help him see others’ perspectives. "It’s an opportunity for people to explain their point of view and to get some time," Graham said. "Obviously, it's difficult in the Capitol to get somebody's time when you have to vote and do a lot of other things. So I think it's an opportunity for them to get us out of the building and make a case for whatever they’re working on."
"It tends not to be political or issue-oriented — it's an opportunity to get out and, I think, form a relationship with individuals so you know who each other are and have an understanding of how each other works,” Graham said.
Many of the politicians interviewed by Rosenbaum noted the friendships they made with these lobbyists and the valuable information they receive from them. That is a scary enough thought, but it fails to answer two questions:
1. Why can't these discussions take place in the politicians' offices- where any of their constituents would have to go to meet with their elected legislators?
2. Why can't the politicians pay for their own share of the meals?