Saturday, July 26, 2008
Ethics Commission documents show Koster changed his tune with lobbyists
When the ball dropped and 2006 turned into 2007, Democratic attorney general candidate Chris Koster celebrated the new year with food and drinks provided by Ameristar Casino lobbyist Jorgen Schlemeier, according to Missouri Ethics Commission documents.
The documents indicate Schlemeier paid $117.75 for "meals, food, and beverage" for Koster and a like amount for Rep. Shannon Cooper, Rep. Tom Dempsey, and Dempsey's wife, Mollie.
The Ethics Commission documents indicate Koster changed more than his party this year. He has also changed the way he deals with lobbyists.
This year, Koster has accepted $342.43 in lobbyists' gifts. He accepted more than that, $475, on one day, June 24, 2007.
Koster's totals for 2008 are slightly less than opponent Jeff Harris' $367.48, and more than his other opponent, Margaret Donnelly's $208 during the first five months of the year.
But while the totals for Ms. Donnelly and Harris are similar to their past totals, Koster's have changed dramatically.
In 2007, Koster accepted $2,175.28 in lobbyists' gifts, including $475 for continuing legal education costs June 24 from Sara Schuett, lobbyist for the Missouri Association of Trial Attorneys. The previous day, he accepted $298.70 from Ms. Schuett for travel and lodging and on June 22, Ms. Schuett provided $117.53 in meals, for a grand total of $891.23.
The Ethics Commission documents show that Koster not only accepted more than two thousand dollars in gifts from lobbyists in 2007, but he did not always wait for the lobbyists to come to him.
On Jan. 2, 2007, Ethics Commission records indicate Koster solicited $290.52 in "meals, food, and beverage" from Derek Leffert, lobbyist for the Association of Missouri Electric Cooperatives.
Koster accepted even more from lobbyists in 2006, $2,343.49, according to the Ethics Commission documents, including his end of the year celebration on the dime of Ameristar Casino. The total included another $181.95 in meals from Schlemeier, with $50.94 of that total credited to Ameristar Casino.
The 2006 total also included $110 in entertainment from Erin Elliott, University of Missouri, $125 in entertainment and $25 for meals on Oct. 1 from Brett Leopold, Sprint Nextel, $120 in meals Sept. 22 from Mel Nicholson, SSM Health Care, and $475 from Ms. Schuett on June 22.
Ms. Donnelly $208 in lobbyists' gifts for the first five months of 2008 include $167.48 on Jan. 11 from Nicholson, representing SSM Cardinal Glennen Children's Medical Center. Since that day she has only accepted $40.52 in gifts.
In 2007, Ms. Donnelly accepted $345 in gifts and in 2006, she accepted $219.17
Harris' $367.48 for the first five months of the year, also includes the $167.48 on Jan. 11 from Nicholson and $200 in "other" from Bonnie Bowles, lobbyist for the Missouri Association of Osteopathic Physicians and Surgeons.
Harris' 2007 total of $694.42, included $149.35 from Sara Schuett, Missouri Association of Trial Attorneys, for meals and $60 for lodging. Harris accepted $840.98 in gifts in 2006.