A Missouri representative raises concern about lobbying

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COLUMBIA - A Missouri representative hosted a town hall meeting Wednesday to raise concern about Missouri lobbying laws. 

Representative John Wright is the Vice Chair of the House Ethics Committee. He spoke to about 40 people Wednesday at the Daniel Boone Regional Library. 

He said Missouri is one of only four states that has no limit on the amount of campaign contributions a person can donate to a state or local politician and is the only state in the nation that has neither a campaign contributions cap or a cap on gifts from lobbyists. 

Wright said that there were around 10,000 "gifts" from lobbyists to Missouri officials recorded last year, totalling almost a million dollars. He said that these gifts range anywhere from sports or concert tickets to expensive steak dinners. At one dinner in particular, lobbyists spent almost $5,000 to take the House Utilities Committee to CC Broilers in Columbia. 

Wright said the culture of the capitol building needs to change before Missourians see an improvement in lobbying laws. 

"If I'm an office holder, I never have to pay for a meal," Wright said. "Change won't happen from the inside out, but it could happen from the outside in if we keep talking about it."

Wright encourages Missourians to check the Ethics Committee website to see what gifts their representatives have accepted from lobbyists. 

[Editor's note: This story has been updated to correct the spelling of "Representative," "anywhere" and "lobbyist."]

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