Few escape lobbyists' enticements

Monday, August 16th 2004, 6:08 am
By: News On 6

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) _ Seventeen of Oklahoma's 150 state lawmakers squeaked by last legislative session without receiving a meal, an entertainment ticket or other gifts worth more than $50 from a lobbyist.

Lobbyists spent about $60,000 on legislators, state officials and staff during the first six months of the year, according to Ethics Commission records researched by the Tulsa World. Most of that was spent on legislators.

Several of those who received little from lobbyists said they wanted to keep their independence.

Rep. Frank Davis, R-Guthrie, thinks lobbyists provide important information to lobbyists.

``I think sometimes, however, when they do so in a social situation rather than in a professional situation that maybe their influence is more than it deserves, especially with some members,'' Davis said.

And some legislators think the state's 12-year term limits that are taking effect this year will leave the state House and Senate with inexperienced legislators unwisely vulnerable to lobbyists' influences.

Rep. M.C. Leist, D-Morris, prefers not to entangle himself in lobbyists' wishes.

``The guys will tell you that they can eat with a guy and vote against him the next day,'' Leist said. ``They can, but at the same time, it's more difficult and I just prefer not to put that pressure on myself, coming real close to some of the people.''

Several legislators think younger or less experienced lawmakers are more prone to spend a night on the town with lobbyists.