It’s little wonder that Missouri Rep. Lyndall Fraker thinks there’s nothing wrong with holding public meetings at country clubs

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Among members of the Missouri General Assembly, where ethics are only a concept, Marshfield Rep. Lyndall Fraker sticks out among his House peers as one of the more lobbyist-greased elected officials.

The chairman of the House Utility Infrastructure Committee last year took in $2,615 in gifts from lobbyists. That ranks him the 12th-highest recipient of lobbyist gifts among the 194 members of the House. 

Much of that largesse was lavished upon Fraker by lobbyists representing companies with business before Fraker’s committee. Those gifts included $150 in meals and beverages, plus $100 football tickets on November 16, all paid for by a lobbyist representing Time Warner Cable.

Matthew Forck, a lobbyist for investor-owned utility Ameren, sprinkled gifts upon Fraker throughout the year last year, including:

• A $127 ticket to go watch the St. Louis Cardinals lose to the Kansas City Royals on June 3.
• A $75 ticket to see the Missouri Tigers football team lose to the Georgia Bulldogs on October 11, plus another $41.25 worth of food and beverage at the same game.

Mary Scruggs, a lobbyist for the Association of Missouri Electric Cooperatives, was more generous to Fraker than the gentleman from Ameren. She spent $242.39 on meals and beverages for Fraker on May 14, then another $204.68 on the same on May 6, and $100.38 on March 13.

Given that he’s been plied with more gifts than a spoiled 10-year-old on Christmas Day, it’s easy to see how someone like Fraker would think that holding a legislative meeting for the House Utility Infrastructure Committee at a country club paid for by a utility industry association is perfectly fine.

Fraker is trying to tamp down criticisms from as high up as Sen. Claire McCaskill, who was among many who took exception at Fraker’s committee preparing to stage two meetings at the Jefferson City Country Club. The Missouri Energy Development Association, a nonprofit whose board is populated entirely by executives from all of Missouri’s biggest utilities (including Kansas City Power & Light), is footing the bill for the food that committee members will eat during those meetings.

Fraker seemed unfazed by the criticism, telling MissouriNet on Monday that the meeting was just an opportunity for committee members to take in some information from MEDA president Trey Davis.

“I posted it up as a regular meeting just so we would be transparent, so the public would know we don’t have bills to hear but we’re going to have an informative meeting, an introductory meeting for our first meeting and all the utility members of all the committees can meet one another and get to know each other and get to know Trey’s organization,” Fraker told MissouriNet.

Any elected official who has served on a utilities committee in Missouri over the last decade should be familiar with the MEDA; a St. Louis Public Radio database of lobbyist gifts shows MEDA has showered 562 gifts on state lawmakers since 2004, valued in total at $72,568

Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon in his State of the State address last week called once again for ethics reform. Considering the behavior of people like Fraker, who serves in a leadership position, it was perhaps the hollowest statement in a speech full of hollow statements.

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