FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Aug. 4, 2014
Contact: Tom Pauley
Pauley Pledges to Refuse Gifts from Lobbyists as State Representative
HALLSVILLE – Tom Pauley, candidate for state representative in the 44th House District, today announced that as a candidate for state representative, if elected to the General Assembly he will not accept gifts from lobbyists or others who can benefit from legislation passed by the Missouri Legislature.
“Missouri law allows lobbyists to give unlimited amounts of gifts like sporting tickets, free dinners and assorted trinkets to Missouri legislators,” Pauley said. “Such wide-open laws make people cynical about government, and who can blame them? If I’m elected, I will only be one representative. But if we elect enough representatives who want to change the system, we can break this cycle of cynicism.”
Missourians for Government Reform, a nonpartisan organization, is the sponsor of the Missouri Candidate Gift-Ban Pledge. The text of the pledge is as follows:
As a candidate for office in the Missouri legislature, I, ________________________, respect the oath of office to which elected representatives swear or affirm. I therefore pledge – if elected to the General Assembly – not to accept gifts of any size from registered lobbyists, lobbying organizations, or others with a vested interest in the performance of my duties for the duration of my service as a legislator in the state of Missouri.
Pauley’s pledge is in contrast to his opponent, first-term Rep. Caleb Rowden. Despite earning nearly $36,000 a year in taxpayer-paid salary and $104 a day in taxpayer-paid expense money during legislative sessions, Rowden has already accepted $2,220 in gifts, tickets and dinners from registered lobbyists since he became a state representative. These amounts are verified by public reports of the Missouri Ethics Commission. These personal gifts from lobbyists do not include the numerous free lunches, receptions and outings offered to all legislators.
The largest single gift to Rowden from a lobbyist was a pair of St. Louis Cardinals tickets valued at $586 for a May 29 game.
Rowden touted his sponsorship and handling of a so-called “ethics bill” during the past legislative session. Although he promised in April that the bill would be taken up for debate on the House floor, it never was. The bill also would have done little to change the culture of freewheeling ethics at the State Capitol. The legislation would have permitted each lobbyist to give $3,000 worth of gifts each year to every single legislator.
“Only in Jefferson City would ethics reform include getting $3,000 worth of free stuff from people who have a financial interest in the decisions you make,” Pauley said. “This is the kind of hypocritical attitude that must change if we are to re-establish the public’s trust.”
The timing and value of the Cardinals tickets was especially egregious, Pauley said.
“In the same month during the legislative session that Rep. Rowden was the point man for ethics in the House, he accepts super-premium Cardinals tickets from a liquor lobbyist,” Pauley said. “What are people supposed to think when they view hypocritical actions like this?”
“I know there are a lot of honest legislators and noble issue advocates in Jefferson City trying to do what’s right,” Pauley continued. “But when legislators can accept unlimited gifts from lobbyists who profit from the votes made by the legislators, it’s no wonder the public believes that special interests control the government. By signing the gift-ban pledge, I believe I can personally make a difference to change state government for the better.”