Sunday, August 16, 2009
St. Louis Democrat Robin Wright-Jones tops Turner Report Hall of Shame
It takes most first term Missouri state senators the first couple of years before they get fully into the swing of things and know how Jefferson City operates.
Not Robin Wright-Jones. It took her one week to find out which lobbyists would provide her with the best meals and entertainment. By the end of her first month in office, Ms. Wright-Jones had already accepted $2,509.66 in lobbyists' gifts- a number only five senators have surpassed and it took them six months to beat her.
Since that time, Ms. Wright-Jones has boosted her total to $4,897.67 and there are still six months left that have not been reported.
That not only puts the first-term senator on a path toward Rookie of the Year, but it puts her right at the top of the latest Turner Report Hall of Shame. The list includes six Democrats and four Republicans, which means that more than half of the 11 Democrats in the Senate made the cut.
Trailing Ms. Wright-Jones in lobbyists' gifts were:
2. Luann Ridgeway, R-Smithville, $3,612.34
3. Timothy Green, D-Florissant, $2,952.34
4. John Griesheimer, R-Washington, $2,799.09
5. Yvonne Wilson, D-Kansas City $2,775.55
6. Wes Shoemyer, D-Monroe County, $2,588.95
7. Jim Lembke, R-St. Louis, $2,306.41
8. Rita Days, D-St. Louis, $2,270.66
9. Jason Crowell, R-Cape Girardeau, $2,193.15
10. Frank Barnitz, D-Lake Spring, $1,703.41
Ms. Wright-Jones piled up the free meals for herself and visitors during the first week of the legislative session and the inauguration parties. On Jan. 7, she accepted $500.31 in meals from James M. Foley, who divided the tab equally among three of his clients, Missouri Health Care Association, Missouri Council of School Administrators and Missouri Association of Insurance Agents.
On the same day, she took another $400 from lobbyist Kathryn Harness split equally between Metro and American Institute of Architects of Missouri. An additional $200 for meals came from AFL-CIO lobbyist Herb R. Johnson, giving Ms. Wright-Jones $1,100 in free meals the first day on the job.
Ms. Wright-Jones' total for the first day was more than 14 of her fellow senators have accepted during the first six months.
The gravy train did not stop there, however. On Jan 11, Rodney Boyd, lobbyist for Sonnenschein, Nath, and Rosenthal chipped in $209.09 worth of meals. On the next day, Ms. Wright-Jones received the following meals for herself and guests during inauguration festivities:
-$114.82 for entertainment, from Michelle Galloway, Missouri Energy Development Association
-$578.63 for food, from Luann Madsen and Phil Wright, Missouri Association for Community Action
-$89.20 for meals, from Joseph Thompson, Joseph Thompson Consulting (who representa a laundry list of major clients)
-$206.08 for "inauguration luncheon," Larry Pleus, Laclede Gas Co
Though her pace slowed down considerably following that exhilarating first week, Ms. Wright-Jones has continued to add the gifts. The latest lobbyists' reports filed for the month of June show Ms. Wright-Jones received $240 for St. Louis Cardinals' tickets for $171.40 for meals for her and four friends on June 16 from Stephen Hoven, representing SSM Health Care.
On May 22, Ms. Wright-Jones received $108 worth of Cardinals' tickets and $31.74 for meals from Ameren UE lobbyist Matthew Forck.