Richmond Times-Dispatch: Unauthorized discussion of politicians strictly prohibited (In the News)

Barton Hinkle

The most recent is Missouri. On Friday, the Missouri Ethics Commission fined Ron Calzone $1,000 for failing to register as a lobbyist and submit the required paperwork. The Ethics Commission justified this on the grounds that Calzone describes himself as a “citizen lobbyist.” He heads a group called Missouri First that tries to influence public policy in the Show Me State.

The bill of particulars against Calzone reports that he: “met with legislators”; “testified” before the Missouri legislature; and “appear(ed) as a witness before committees.” Yikes.

Never mind that Missouri First does not lobby for clients, as actual lobbyists do. Or that Calzone does not get paid to talk to legislators. Or give them gifts or wine and dine them. In fact, he says, Missouri First doesn’t even have a checking account to pay him with. Yet as far as the Ethics Commission is concerned, he can’t speak to legislators until he gets the state’s permission.

And who filed the original complaint, by the way? The Missouri Society of Government Consultants — the state’s association for professional lobbyists

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The Center for Competitive Politics is now the Institute for Free Speech.