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When I made my mid-life change from being a newspaper reporter/editor to teaching, I received $21,450 a year teaching creative writing at Diamond Missouri Middle School for the 1999-2000 school year.

Apparently, I went into the wrong field. The new Missouri Senate President Pto Tem, Tom Dempsey, R-St. Charles County, has received more than that, $23,373.11, in lobbyists' gifts alone during his six years in the Senate.

Dempsey started slowly, with only $827.45 worth of gifts in 2007, adding $5,346.47, $6,852.19, $2,541.59, and $4,887.26 in succeeding years, and collecting another $4,918.15 in 2012.

His 2012 total included $120 in National League Championship Series tickets from AT&T lobbyist John Sondag, then $97 for St. Louis Cardinals tickets the next day from John Bardgett, the St. Louis lobbyist who incredibly never tells which special interest is footing the bill, but always lists his company, Bardgett and Associates, and $280 for four University of Missouri football tickets from Matthew Forck, Ameren UE. Forck also chipped in with $29.98 for meals that day.

And that was just some of the gifts Dempsey received during the last three months of 2012. In September, Dempsey played in a golf tournament, a $400 gift courtesy of Ameristar Casino lobbyist Troy Stremming, something which apparently no one thought should be considered a gift at the time since it was not filed with the Missouri Ethics Commission until November.

And then there were the $800 worth of Cardinals tickets from an Anheuser-Busch lobbyist in July. Earlier in the month, a Greater Kansas City Chamber of Commerce lobbyist provided $237 worth of tickets to the Cardinals-Royals series.

Dempsey also received the following gifts:

-$243.60, meal, Pinnacle Entertainment July 5
-$173.61, travel/lodging, Missouri Pharmacy Association, Missouri Railroad Association, June 8
-$302.73 travel/lodging, Ameristar Casino, May 12

And that does not include the dozens of lunches (Dempsey received 72 gifts from lobbyists during 2012) the senator received throughout the year from lobbyists representing SSM Health Care, Mercy Health System, Centurylink, St. Louis Regional Chamber and Growth Association, Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield, Jeffrey E. Smith Companies, Missouri Beverage Association, University of Missouri Board of Curators, Express Scripts, Missouri Association of Manufacturers, Missouri Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Missourians for Responsible Government, Laclede Gas Company, Missouri Insurance Coalition, Monsanto, Wal-Mart, Missouri Hospital Association, Transcanada Corporation, Missouri Automobile Dealers Association, HNTB Corporation, Pfizer, Comcast, Astrazeneca Pharmaceuticals, Cheyenne International, Stinson Morrison Heckler, Empire District Electric Company, Isle of Capri Casinos and Railway Supply Institute.

The special interests have also been pouring their money into Dempsey's campaign account, including $22,500 from casino companies, $20,000 from Ameren, and $50,000 from public education enemy retired billionaire Rex Sinquefield, as well as $15,000 from another voucher supporter Charles Norval Sharpe's CNS Corporation and $2,000 from Michelle Rhee's anti-public school group Students First.

That does not even includes the thousands he has picked up from the payday loan industry, the Missouri Bankers Association, and other special interests.

Why is this so important? Not only is Dempsey one of 34 votes in the Senate, but he is the man who will decide which bills receive the fast track and which ones never see the light of day.

Money talks in the Missouri Legislature. In other words, it is business as usual in 2013.

Originally posted to rturner229 on Mon Jan 07, 2013 at 09:18 PM PST.

Also republished by Show Me Kos.

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