JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) - Missouri’s Republican Senate leader on Thursday said he supports making elected officials wait longer before becoming lobbyists but doesn’t think Republican Gov.-elect Eric Greitens’ proposal is the best route.
A one-to-one lobbying waiting period was a centerpiece of Greitens’ campaign, during which he focused heavily on ethics. Under his plan, officials would need to wait a year for every year served in office before lobbying.
Richard said that would allow lawmakers to resign after a year in office, wait a year and then as a lobbyist roam the Capitol halls trying to sway former colleagues.
“You may have deal-making with someone in here one year,” Richard said, adding that a lawmaker might decide “pastures are greener on the other side of the fence” and leave office early to pursue a lobbying job.
Associated Press requests for comment to a Greitens’ spokesman and adviser were not immediately returned Thursday.
When asked Thursday whether a one-to-one waiting period has a chance at passage and if he supports it, Richard replied, simply, “no.” He said he’d rather have a set waiting period of a certain number of years, but would vote for a proposal similar to Greitens’ if it gains traction.
For House members, who serve two-year terms, a one-to-one proposal would allow them to become lobbyists six months earlier than under current law. Legislators last year banned elected officials from working as lobbyists until six months after the end of their terms.
Senators who serve the maximum of two, four-year terms would be barred from lobbying for eight years under Greitens’ plan - much longer than any waiting period proposed by legislators so far this year.
No measures have so far been proposed that align with Greitens’ proposal. Session began Wednesday.
Republican state Sen. Rob Schaaf, who is proposing a two-year ban after officials’ terms end, in a recent interview with AP said Greitens’ support could propel a one-to-one ban forward but raised doubts.
“In my opinion the longer the better,” Schaaf said. “But I think that the Legislature may have an appetite for a couple of years.”
First-time candidate Greitens campaigned heavily on ethics during his run for governor of Missouri, once the only state to have the trio of unlimited lobbyist giving, uncapped campaign donations and no waiting period before elected officials could become lobbyists.
That changed last year after fallout from scandals that helped push long-unsuccessful ethics issues forward.
Former Republican House Speaker John Diehl on the last day of the 2015 legislative session admitted to exchanging sexual text messages with an intern and resigned. Months later former Democratic Sen. Paul LeVota stepped down amid allegations that he sexually harassed interns, which he denied.
Voters in November also passed campaign contribution limits.
Greitens also wants term limits for all statewide elected officials and still is pushing for a ban on lobbyist gifts to elected officials, which died last year in the Senate.
Richard said he recommended Greitens reach out to senators who raised concerns with a gift ban.
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