POLITICS

Missouri Bill Redefines Hot Lobbyist-On-Lawmaker Action As A 'Gift'

Missouri is the Show-Me State, after all.

As anyone who's had any amount of access to America's teeming and seamy population of professional influence peddlers can attest, there was never a political fixer born that didn't fancy themselves to be God's gift to somebody.

But lobbyists in the state of Missouri may soon find themselves torn between new statewide disclosure guidelines and their titanic egos, all thanks to a bill being offered by a Montgomery County Republican that would require lobbyists to formally disclose every time they got up to some funny business with a state lawmaker.

And by "funny business," let me be clear. I mean doin' it. The beast with two backs. Cloakroom scrumpin'. The proverbial nasty. As the Kansas City Star's Jason Hancock reports:

The bill, sponsored by Republican Rep. Bart Korman from Montgomery County, defines sex between lobbyists and legislators as a gift. As such, sexual relations would have to be included on monthly lobbyist gift disclosure forms.

It's pretty delicious, but it's not coming from out of the blue. Last year, the Missouri state legislature was rocked by a pair of fairly humiliating sex scandals. In July, Democratic state Sen. Paul LeVota resigned from office amid allegations that he'd sexually harassed interns. LeVota denied the charges throughout but not before the preponderance of evidence against him cost him the support of Democratic Gov. Jay Nixon.

Two months prior, Republican House Speaker John Diehl resigned after the Star surfaced racy text messages that revealed an intern sex scandal of his own. Diehl was succeeded by fellow Republican Todd Richardson, who's kicked off this year vowing to make sweeping ethics reform the first order of business. But nobody said ethics reform couldn't be cheeky and fun, so deep down into House Bill No. 2059, which would codify rules governing lobbyist expenditures and their timely disclosure, we have this:

For purposes of subdivision (2) of this subsection, the term "gift" shall include sexual relations between a registered lobbyist and a member of the general assembly or his or her staff. Relations between married persons or between persons who entered into a relationship prior to the registration of the lobbyist, the election of the member to the general assembly, or the employment of the staff person shall not be reportable under this subdivision. The reporting of sexual relations for purposes of this subdivision shall not require a dollar valuation.

Not requiring the dollar valuation is a bit disappointing, as it would be useful to have a gauge on how much self-awareness each lobbyist in Missouri has. But other than that, this section of the bill is a model for the entire nation, so let it be passed with all deliberate speed.

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Jason Linkins edits "Eat The Press" for The Huffington Post and co-hosts the HuffPost politics podcast, "So, That Happened." Subscribe here. Listen to the latest episode below.

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