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Lobbyists lobby -- they try to influence legislators to vote for their particular cause. This effort can include persuasive argument, fundraising assistance, or even campaign committee contributions. Outright gifts are strictly limited and must be reported.
A new Missouri law may require lobbyists to report sex with state legislators as a "gift" under state lobbying statutes. This shines a whole new light on lobbying in The Show Me State.
Giving the Gift of Love
Specifically, House Bill No. 2059 would redefine the term "gift" to include "sexual relations between a registered lobbyist and a member of the general assembly or his or her staff." Fortunately, if a pair of legislator/lobbyist lovebirds had a sexual relationship prior to their status as such they would not be required to report any ongoing intercourse. And, mercifully, lobbyists won't have to assign a financial value to the fornication.
If passed, the proposed law would go into effect later this year.
Show Me Show Me Show Me
The bill comes on the heels of two sexual misconduct scandals involving Missouri lawmakers. In May of last year, Republican House Speaker John Diehl resigned after admitting to a sexually charged relationship with a teen intern. And in July, Democratic House Minority Leader Paul LeVota resigned following allegations that he made unwanted sexual advances toward his own interns. While neither scandal involved lobbyists, clearly the Missouri legislature felt the need to get its coital house in order.
"I just put it as the gift section because it's the closest thing I could come up with," explained Representative Bart Korman, who introduced the bill. "I hope it deters any of that activity, but that if activity does occur, it's at least transparent." It's not clear that transparency, lobbying, and sex have ever been the best of bedfellows, but here's to hoping Missouri's menage a trois can work.