- Associated Press - Thursday, January 7, 2016

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) - A Missouri bill proposed this week would require lobbyists to report sexual relationships they have with lawmakers or their staff, a change the sponsor says would promote transparency.

The bill by Rep. Bart Korman, a High Hill Republican, would define those sexual relations as “gifts,” which now include presents to lawmakers from lobbyists and must be regularly reported to the Missouri Ethics Commission.

“For the citizens of Missouri, if there’s a situation like that I think they should know,” Korman said. “To improve the integrity and transparency in our process, I believe it’s something we should look at.”

He said the proposal was partly influenced by the relationship between former GOP House Speaker John Diehl and a former staffer to Democratic Gov. Jay Nixon, although the staffer was not a lobbyist.

Diehl left the House in disarray on the last day of the 2015 legislative session when he resigned after admitting to exchanging sexually suggestive texts with a Capitol intern.

Diehl’s departure, along with the resignation of a senator accused of sexually harassing interns, spurred legislative leaders to call for changes to ethics laws this year.

Korman’s measure would exclude sexual relationships between lobbyists and their spouses who are lawmakers or staff. Relationships that begin before an individual becomes a lobbyist or serves as a lawmaker or staff member also would be exempt.

The bill says reports on sexual relationships wouldn’t need a “dollar valuation,” which is required for other “gifts” to lawmakers.

Korman said he hopes the bill receives a hearing, an early but necessary step to move the measure forward.

It wasn’t among the bills scheduled for a hearing Monday before a House committee reviewing proposed ethics changes. The committee chairman said the bills up for discussion Monday will get the most serious consideration.


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