When Chuck Graham sets out to do something, he does it well.
Graham, the top-ranking Democrat in the Missouri Senate, not only has collected more gifts from lobbyists than any other Senator during the first eight months of 2006, but he leads the race by more than $900, according to disclosure reports filed with the Missouri Ethics Commission.
At the end of the 2006 legislative session, David Klindt, R-Bethany, headed the Turner Report Hall of Shame, but Graham surpassed him, collecting $1,681.80 worth of gifts since the Missouri General Assembly ended its 2006 session...and he has still four months to add to his total.
Graham tops the latest Hall of Shame rankings with $4,606.99 for 2006. Others making the top 10 are:
2. David Klindt, R-Bethany, $3,699.10
3. Luann Ridgeway, R-Smithville, $1,948.87
4. Pat Dougherty, D-St. Louis, $1,692.34
5. John Cauthorn, R-Mexico, $1,578.98
6. Victor Callahan, D-Independence, $1,544.35
7. Chuck Gross, R-St. Charles, $1,484.32
8. Chris Koster, R-Harrisonville, $1,389.14
9. Rob Mayer, R-Dexter, $1,262.83
10. Maida Coleman, D-St. Louis, $1,246.26
Graham's $1,681.80 since the 2006 legislative session ended includes $547.88, from lobbyists with the powerhouse firm of Gamble & Schlemeier, with those gifts listed made on behalf of such clients as the Missouri College of Emergency Physicians, Independent Colleges and Universities, Missouri Beverage Association, SMACNA, Mechanical Contractors Association, Fred Weber, Inc., and the MAPHCC.
Graham also picked up $273.77 from lobbyists Tina Shannon and Drue Duncan representing Ameren UE.
Graham's penchant for picking up gifts from lobbyists was noted in an article written by Jason Rosenbaum in the June 17 Columbia Daily Tribune, which featured the following passage:
Graham said his total was highest because he often meets with various people to discuss legislative races around the state. He said he doesn't vote based on gifts lobbyists give him. Voters elected him to choose sides on issues based on facts, he said, not a meal.
"I'm not going to lose re-election over a cheeseburger," Graham said.
That is probably true, but it is also true that our elected officials, like those they represent, should buy their own cheeseburgers.