By the time 2012 faded into history, Sen. Curls had received $7,605.68 in lobbyists' gifts, nearly $3,000 more than her nearest competitor Sen. Tom Dempsey, R-St. Louis County, according to reports filed with the Missouri Ethics Commission.
Though the senator averaged more than $600 in gifts per month, she really started collecting them after the legislative session ended, beginning with the barbecue on the last day.
Ethics Commission documents indicate that five lobbyists, Adam Randall McBride, representing the Missouri Laborers' Legislative Committee; Harry Hill, the Missouri Rural Water Association; Jay Reichard, Systems and Methods; Kelvin Simmons, SNR Denton US LLP; and Shannon Weber, Carpenters' District Council of Greater St. Louis and Vicinity; split the bill, with each contributing $165 for a total of $825.
Hill's report also indicated that Ms. Curls had solicited the gift, which would lead to the impression that she or someone from her office also asked the other four lobbyists to contribute to the barbecue bash.
The gift spree continued on June 1, when Ms. Curls received four tickets worth $351 to a concert at the Sprint Center by New Edition, from Carrie Sherer, lobbyist for Cerner, as well as $73.36 for "food and beverages for four people for New Edition concert."
BJC Healthcare lobbyist Leann Chilton footed the bill for box tickets for Sen. Curls and her chief of staff, Sheron Fulton, at the Cardinals-Royals game at Busch Stadium to the tune of $88, while Matthew Forck, Ameren lobbyist also provided $124 for "entertainment" at Busch Stadium that day, as well as $22.60 for meals, and $5.68 for "a gift."
Caroline Hoover, KC Power and Light lobbyist, provided $550 worth of entertainment tickets on July 9 (no event was specified and the Royals schedule does not indicate they played that day). As if that were not enough, another $237.24 worth of "game tickets" was contributed by Kristi Wyatt, Greater Kansas City Chamber of Commerce lobbyist the same day.
The next day, Ms. Hoover provided Sen. Curls with another $1,000 worth of tickets, according to the Ethics Commission documents.
Gifts received by Sen. Curls later in the year included a movie and refreshments from Lea Crusey, lobbyist for Michelle Rhee's anti-public education group, Students First, air travel worth $351.60 and lodging at the St. Louis Airport Marriott worth $112.45, provided by Express Scripts lobbyist Michael D. Harrold; $440 worth of Chiefs tickets on Oct. 7 from KC Power and Light's Hoover; and another $164 in tickets from Hoover to a Miami Heat-Washington Wizards basketball game (Cerner's Sherer also provided $325 worth of tickets to the same event).
And, of course, the Justin Bieber concert, Oct. 26 at the Sprint Center. The Ethics Commission documents show William Jerad Falk, lobbyist for Time Warner Cable, presented Sen. Curls with $190 worth of Bieber tickets, and also chipped in $73.06 for meals.
If indeed, Sen. Curls used the ticket, this is what she saw, according to Kansas City Star critic Tim Finn:
He arrived inside the arena virtually, as a winged image flying from one side to the other. Then the lights went up and the real Justin Bieber arrived inside the Sprint Center, airborne and winged again. He descended to the stage, where his band and a troupe of dancers awaited him, and for the next 90 minutes put on a show that kept much of the sold-out arena on its feet, singing and screaming and screaming some more.
Tickets for Justin Bieber, New Edition, and the various sporting events lobbyists provided Sen. Curls are beyond the means of most of the people in areas she represents. And they continue to feed the image that Missouri's legislature is for sale to the highest bidder.