"Poverty in downtown Kansas City is another important issue. With fewer job opportunities, those without work find it difficult to find new employment. Health care has become a central focus for many families as it becomes more expensive to maintain insurance. Changes in Medicaid and Medicare make it difficult for many to use federal and state programs for help.
"With current poverty rates in Missouri, it is vital that legislators take action to improve the living conditions and create hand-up opportunities for all Missourians. Over 13 million families with children live in poverty and close to 200,000 children are living homeless. In Missouri, average household incomes have declined while the population living below the poverty level has increased. These are symptoms of a larger problem which must receive attention in Jefferson City."
The idealistic comments above come from the 2006 campaign website of Minority Leader Mike Talboy, D-Kansas City, the man who stands to become Speaker of the House if his party regains the majority in 2010.
And while there appears to be no doubt in Talboy's sincerity in those statements, his record during the past three years shows he has taken full advantage of Jefferson City's political culture to enrich himself at the same time as he decries poverty for others.
Missouri Ethics Commission documents show Talboy has accepted $27,607.29 worth of gifts from lobbyists during his first 31 months in office. Actually, that figure is not quite correct- $269 of that total came before he ever took the oath of office. After receiving a $5 gift early in December 2006, about a month after his election, Talboy began his three-year spree in earnest on New Year's Eve, when he accepted $264 worth of "entertainment" from Isle of Capri casino lobbyist Chris Liese, though the Jackson County Sports Complex is listed as the interest which paid for the representative-elect's fun. At that point, Talboy still had four more days to go before he jointed the legislature.
In 2007, Talboy received $6,188.10 in gifts, increasing that amount to $8,011.04 in 2008, and then to a whopping $13,139.15 in 2009...with three more months still to be recorded.
And if the lobbyists' gifts were not enough, Talboy was one of 31 representatives who voted to give themselves a four percent pay raise in January, less than four weeks after legislators received a 14.5 percent pay increase that raised their annual compensation to $35,915. That effort was soundly defeated, with 129 representatives voting against it.
Talboy's lobbyist feeding frenzy has been recounted in this blog for the past several months. The Turner Report's previous coverage of Mike Talboy can be found at this link.
(Randy Turner's new book, Newspaper Days, is available at Amazon.com.)