To be fair, it was not Speaker of the House Ron Richard, R-Joplin who told the Kansas City Star that State Auditor Susan Montee's report issued earlier this week detailing a cozy arrangement with lobbyists to provide money for parties, receptions, and alcohol for the House and the Senate was "a non-story."
However, since the statement came from a Richard spokeswoman, and since he has not issued any statements disagreeing with her answer, there seems to be no doubt that Richard shares the sentiment.
And that should come as no surprise since The Turner Report has been detailing the speaker's dealings with lobbyists for quite some time.
His greatest hits include the following:
In the Dec. 31, 2008, Turner Report I detailed how Richard was wined and dined by lobbyists representing retired billionaire Rex Sinquefield:
Travis Brown, lobbyist for billionaire Rex Sinquefield, spent more than $1,700 wining and dining Joplin's top legislators, Sen. Gary Nodler and Rep. Ron Richard and their wives, during a two-day period in November, according to documents posted today on the Missouri Ethics Commission website.
Nodler, chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee, and his wife Joncee, received $1,135.98 in meals and lodging from Sinquefield's lobbyist Nov. 7 and Nov. 8, according to the documents. On Nov. 7, each of the Nodlers received $162.13 for meals, with the total increasing to $286.21 apiece for meals the following day.
Nodler received lodging totaling $239.30 on Nov. 7.
Richard, who will become Speaker of the House next week, also received the $239.30 for lodging on the 7th, with he and his wife each receiving meals worth $162.13 on the 7th and $25.13 on the 8th.
The total for the two legislators was $1748.80, according to the Ethics Commission documents.
Others who were dining on the Sinquefield tab included outgoing Speaker Rod Jetton and his wife Cassie, Sen. Rob Mayer, R-Dexter, and his wife Nancy, Rep. Allen Icet, R_Wildwood, Budget Committee chairman; Rep. Mike Sutherland, R-Warrenton; Rep. Steven Tilley, R-Perryville, Majority Floor Leader; and Rep. Jay Wasson, R-Nixa. Only Wasson, who received $25.63 in meals, received less than $100 from Brown, according to the Ethics Commission documents.
Richard rode lobbyists' contributions to his lofty post in the House, according to Missouri Ethics Commission documents. As I reported in the May 30, 2007 Turner Report:
Statesmanship is an added plus, but these days, on both the state and national levels, the quality that is most prized is the ability to raise big bucks for party candidates and on that basis Richard made a clean first strike.
With Joplin CPA Nick Myers as his campaign treasurer, and new rules allowing unlimited campaign contributions, Richard garnered more than $48,000 in contributions since the 30 days after the election report.
More than $45,000 of that amount, as I noted in the April 14 Turner Report, came from a Jan. 2 fundraiser at a swank Jefferson City eating establishment:
That amount included more than $11,000 from lobbyists, bundled with money from their clients, $7,500 from seven Missouri Bankers Association regional political action committees, $2,550 from casino interests, and more than $5,300 from out-of-state interests.
Among the lobbyists dropping big bucks in Richard's collection plate were:
Election Day Enterprises- Election Days Enterprises is the political consulting firm owned by lobbyist and former State Representative Jewell Patek, $1,275
Mark Rhoads- Rhoads is the lobbyist for Harrah's Entertainment and Blue Cross Blue Shield, $1,000 from Rhoads, $325 from Blue Cross Blue Shield, $1,275 from Harrah's
Penman & Winton Consulting Group, Inc.- The lobbying firm, which represents AT*t, chipped in with $500
John Bardgett- The man considered by some to be Missouri's most powerful lobbyist kicked in with $1,275, while his client Missouri Cable PAC donated $2,000. The lobbying firm of Bardgett & Associates also contributed $1,275.
Roy Cagle- The lobbyist and former state representative from Joplin, who represents the Missouri Finance Institute, contributed $500.
Harness and Associates- Lobbyist Kathryn Harness' firm, which represents Northport Health Services and the Missouri Beer Wholesalers, among other clients, donated $200
The Giddens and Russell Group- The lobbying firm, which represents Altria. gave $1,000, with Altria adding
Michael Reid- Reid, who represents the Missouri School Boards Association, contributed $500.
Harry Gallagher- Though Gallagher's name was nowhere to be seen on the campaign disclosure form, the lobbying powerhouse delivered three of his clients, the aforementioned Missouri Insurance Coalition, R. J. Reynolds, which contributed $1,000 and $500 from Competitive Enterprise Growth PAC, which is the front of Texas-based beer and liquor distributor Glazer's.