Missouri & A Different Meaning of Gift

In the latest change to state lobbying requirements, last week in Missouri, Representative Bart Korman (R-Mo. 42nd District) introduced legislation that defines sex between lobbyists and lawmakers as a gift. This means lobbyists in the state will have to report any “sexual relations” with state legislators as a “gift” in their state ethics commission disclosures. According to the bill, (House Bill No. 2059), “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.”

Last year Missouri went through several sexual scandals involving its lawmakers. According to the Associated Press, in July 2015 “Missouri state Sen. Paul LeVota submitted his resignation…following allegations that he made unwanted sexual advances toward interns.” This followed hot on the heels of a scandal in May, when a sexually charged relationship between House Speaker John Diehl and an intern was uncovered. Politico reported that “Missouri House Speaker John Diehl resigned Thursday, the day after a report surfaced that he had exchanged sexually charged messages with a 19-year-old intern in his office at the Capitol in Jefferson City.”

Explaining his decision to report sexual relations as a gift Rep. Korman has said, “We’ve already got a lobbyist gift reporting requirement and so that’s how I worked it in there, by treating it as a definition of gift…I hope it deters any of that activity, but that if activity does occur, it’s at least transparent.”

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