Opinion / Editorial
It’s not about the ten bucks — or the thousand. An important principle is involved.
Professional lobbyists in Missouri are legally required to submit reports about the corporations, local governments, industries, associations, and special interests for whom they lobby, how much they are paid, and the goodies they bestow upon the politicians they seek to influence. The registration fee is $10.
Problem is, as I revealed at Townhall yesterday, Ron Calzone isn’t a lobbyist. So, naturally enough, he didn’t file.
Calzone is president of Missouri First, a group advocating constitutional governance and mobilizing fellow citizens for an enormous impact on Show-Me State government. He regularly treks to the capitol, while Missouri First helps folks who can’t get to Jefferson City submit testimony online . . . all to weigh in on issues like the Second Amendment, property rights, initiative petition rules, and cronyism.
It’s true that Calzone lobbies every time he speaks to a legislator. But hey: he’s not a lobbyist under the legal definition. Why? Because he earns not a penny. Missouri First doesn’t even have a bank account. And Calzone doesn’t represent various clients as a professional lobbyist would; he represents himself — and those citizens who agree with him.
Despite the letter of the law, last week the Missouri Ethics Commission fined Mr. Calzone $1,000 for not registering as a lobbyist. It also ordered him not to speak to any state legislator until he registers.
Ron Calzone — with the help of the Freedom Center of Missouri and the Center for Competitive Politics — is appealing the case.
And will win in court.
Yet, that an “ethics” agency is harassing a citizen volunteer speaking truth to power . . . speaks volumes.
As first published in This is Common Sense, by Paul Jacob