The next hearing on HB 2300, the so-called ethics reform bill offered by the Special Standing Committee on Government Accountability and Ethics Reform, is set for 12 noon Tuesday, and hopefully somebody will take a look at this watered down legislation and realize it does nothing to address the two biggest ethical problems facing Missouri's elected officials- the effect of oversized campaign contributions and the gifts from lobbyists.
Instead of banning gifts from lobbyists, an idea which has proposed numerous times in the past by Democratic legislators and was the hallmark of the bill offered by Majority Leader Steve Tilley. the committee, which is chaired by Rep. Kevin Wilson, R-Neosho, is proposing that legislators be limited to accepting $1,000 worth of gifts from lobbyists.
Of course, every legislator you talk to says that he or she cannot be bought for a sandwich and a drink, and perhaps that is true, but there has to be some reason, other than the goodness of their hearts, that lobbyists continue to pay for meals and drinks (and tickets and trips, etc.). If it was not paying off for them, they would save their money.
As for campaign contributions, again, if special interests are not getting their money's worth out of them, they are not going to be giving these exorbitant amounts. Missourians wanted limits, passed a law requiring them, then had to watch as legislators ignored them in a naked grab for the almighty dollar.
Though there will be ethics legislation this session, it appears we will continue to have business as usual in Jefferson City.