JEFFERSON CITY - While no information emerged Thursday to identify what lobbying issues, if any, are the focus of any possible federal investigation, the broad topic of lobbying and campaign fund-raising practices has been the center of several news reports in the past several months.
Issues that have gotten attention include:
* Loopholes in the state's reporting practices that allow lobbying firms to funnel funds to legislators through caucuses without revealing the specific names of the recipients were revealed in March. Since then, bills have been filed to close the loopholes as well as curb campaign contributions and gifts to legislators.
* A contract between the Missouri House Speaker and a state senator came under scrutiny after several news outlets reported in February and March that the senator paid the powerful House leader for campaign advice.
Sen. Jason Crowell, R-Cape Girardeau, paid a political consulting firm operated by Rep. Rod Jetton, R-Marble Hill, $33,000 for work on political campaigns, according to the reports.
* A few lobbyists have complained that those with Democratic ties are being put at a disadvantage.
Marvin Proffer, a former Democratic House member and lobbyist for Southeast Missouri State University, told two Missouri newspapers that he was forced out of his position because he is a Democrat. The university denied Proffer's allegations in both stories.
Proffer was replaced by Republican lobbyist Jewell Patek before the current session began. The Columbia Daily Tribune and the Southeast Missourian reported in March that Missouri Democrats said members of the Republican party have tried to influence firms to hire Republican lobbyists. The newspapers also reported Patek's connections to Gov. Matt Blunt.
* Democrats have issued attacks on the governor's brother, Andy Blunt, who is a registered lobbyist for more than a dozen groups. In July, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch listed Ameren EU and SBC as clients of the governor's brother in a story about legislation passed by Blunt during the 2005 session. The list of legislation mentioned in the article included measures that benefit utility and telephone companies.
* In 2004 the House Education Committee chair cited her ability as chair to raise campaign funds for Republicans from special interests as a reason she should be reappointed as chair.
The next year, Associated Press reported the House Ethics Committee investigated a complaint against Rep. Jane Cunningham, R-St. Louis County, but took no action.
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