In his first official act as governor, Missouri Republican Gov. Eric Greitens signed an executive order that bans executive branch state employees from receiving lobbyist gifts and prohibits any employee in the governor's office from lobbying the executive branch after their employment has ended.
It is unclear what, if any, change in day-to-day operations will be required due to the Governor's ban on executive branch employees accepting gifts from lobbyists. The Missouri Employee Code of Conduct (Policy SP-13) already prohibits state employees from soliciting or accepting any gift, directly or indirectly, on their own behalf, or on behalf of a family member. These current guidelines contain a number exceptions to this rule, including for: informational materials, promotional items, modest items of food other than as part of a meal, and meals, entertainment or travel expenses if provided as part of an event where an employee is a speaker, member of a panel or regular attendee.
Last year, in 2016, the primary focus of gift-related ethics reform in Missouri has been on the Missouri House and Senate's inability to adopt a gift ban applicable to lawmakers. In January 2016, the Missouri House had passed a general ban on most gifts, subject to the exceptions above, but the Senate proposed to instead continue to allow lobbyists to purchase meals for lawmakers, up to a value of $40 per day.
Missouri law does not place a limit on lobbyist expenditures, including gifts. There is, however, a disclosure requirement for all expenditures by lobbyists and principals. Lobbyists must electronically file monthly reports with the Missouri Ethics Commission. Lobbyist expenditures required to be reported include services provided, or anything of value paid, to public and elected officials, their employees, spouses and dependent children.
Missouri House Speaker Todd Richardson has announced that the first bill voted on by the Missouri House this session will be an accompanying ban on elected officials accepting gifts from public officials. Senate leaders have been more circumspect regarding their intentions.
Governor Greitens has also been in discussions with both houses of the legislature regarding imposing a longer ban on lobbying by former elected officials. Last year, following substantial debate, Missouri adopted a six-month "cooling off" period before an elected official can begin lobbying. Governor Greitens favors extending that ban for a period as long as the time in which a former official served in office, while Senate President Pro Tem Ron Richard has argued that a standardized ban of two-years would be a more practical. It remains to be seen what, if any, changes will be adopted as Missouri continues to debate these issues.