Tuesday, September 25, 2007
Legislators, lobbyists charged with misdemeanors in casino case
That's what some people are saying about the misdemeanor charges facing Sen. Jeff Smith, D- and Rep. Joe Aull, D-Marshall, in connection with events that occurred July 31 at the Isle of Capri Casino in Boonville.
Arraignments for both men, plus former Isle of Capri lobbyist Lynne Schlosser are scheduled for 1 p.m. Nov. 6 in Pettis County Circuit Court. Smith allegedly attempted to gamble with Aull's identification card at the instigation of Ms. Schlosser.
While I have a problem with people violating the law, even when it comes to misdemeanors, I am more concerned with the part of the story that has remained totally unmentioned in the media.
Smith, Aull, Aull's wife Candee, Sen. Chuck Graham, D-Columbia, Sen. Wes Shoemyer, D-Clarence, Sen. Jolie Justus, D-Kansas City, and Rep. Judy Baker, D-Columbia, were having a night out on the town at the expense of a lobbyist representing a special interest with a stake in numerous bills that will come before the legislature during the 2008 session.
Chris Liese, a former state representative from St. Louis, and now a lobbyist for Isle of Capri spent $910 wining and dining the legislators and Mrs. Aull on July 31, according to Missouri Ethics Commission documents. Sadly, this kind of occurrence is so commonplace that the media simply does not care, or more likely, has failed to do their research. A total of $130 was spent on "meals, food, and beverage" for each person, the documents indicate.
What happened at the Isle of Capri casino on July 31 may not be a "big deal" to some people, but it includes nearly everything that is wrong with our state legislature. We have elected officials deciding that their own laws do not apply to them. We have a former state legislator, Liese, cashing in on his taxpayer-financed expertise to represent the monied special interests, and we have legislators who, quite legally, are allowing their way to be paid by the same special interests who are behind many of the bills that make their way through the legislature.
This is a case made for the media, and if they choose to concentrate simply on the charges facing Smith, Aull, and Ms. Schlosser, they are missing the story.