In this age of economic uncertainty, some people are wondering if they will have the money to pay for their next meal. Fortunately, that is not a worry our legislators have.
Documents posted this morning on the Missouri Ethics Commission website show that the six Joplin-area legislators, representatives Ron Richard, R-Joplin, Ed Emery, R-Lamar, Marilyn Ruestman, R-Joplin; Bryan Stevenson, R-Webb City, and Tom Flanigan, R-Carthage, as well as Sen. Gary Nodler, R-Joplin accepted $2,011.50 worth of meals, food, beverage, and other gifts.
At this point one year ago, the six Joplin-area legislators had accepted $1,120.67 worth of gifts, approximately $900 less.
That information, however, is misleading, because it does not take into account the change in the 127th District. This year, Flanigan, a rookie legislator, accepted $76,16 in gifts, compared to the $311.70 his predecessor, Steve Hunter, R-Joplin, accepted in 2008.
Removing Flanigan and Hunter from the equation, the 2009 Joplin-area contingent accepted $1,935.34, while the 2008 group took $808.97.
Every legislator accepted more gifts than one year ago, with one, Richard, listed as not just accepting $300 for meals, food, and beverage, but actively soliciting it.
Ron Richard- In just one month, Richard has already accepted $736.62, compared to $213.52 in 2008. The Ethics Commission documents show he solicited $300 from Mary Scruggs, lobbyist for the Association of Missouri Electric Cooperatives, for refreshments for an inaugural wingding. On the same day he accepted another $300 from Tom Rackers, representing Cooperating School Districts of Greater Kansas City.
Bryan Stevenson- Stevenson accepted $416.47, up from $22.92 last year. The big ticket item was $186.77 for the inaugural from Pat Strader, lobbyist for Empire District Electric Company.
Ed Emery- Emery's gift total increased from $125.40 last year to $163.92 in January. Tops was $50 from Strader.
Marilyn Ruestman- Ruestman's total was up from $73.94 to $228.14, topped by $176.14 for meals, food, and beverage from Strader.
Kevin Wilson- Wilson received $158.78 in January, an increase from the $102.32 recorded in January 2008. A meal from lobbyist John Bardgett, who represents numerous St. Louis interests was the biggest gift at $123.36. As usual, Bardgett listed the client he was representing as being his lobbying firm.
Gary Nodler- Nodler's total skyrocketed from $98.89 in January 2008 to $363.88, and the total would be more than $400 if a $37 gift to his wife, Joncee, was included. The Ethics Commission documents indicate the gift was listed as $74 initially, but was amended by the lobbyist to show a $37 gift for Nodler and an equal amount for Mrs. Nodler. Gifts for spouses and children do not show up on the legislator's disclosure report. To find out about those, you have to search the records of each lobbyist. Most of Nodler's total, $250.88 came from Strader, representing Empire District Electric Company. The $74 for the Nodlers came from Paul Kincaid, representing Missouri State University, and is listed as "MSU Salute to Legislators Basketball Game."