The St. Louis Blues, hot ticket item for politicians (Getty Images)
The St. Louis Blues play in an interesting state. While many states prohibit politicians accepting gifts from lobbyists -- in December 2010, New York governor David Paterson was fined $62,125 for accepting free World Series tickets, for instance -- it's an accepted and flourishing practice in Missouri.
According to Jake Wagman of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, "In Missouri, the way it works is that you're allowed unlimited gifts from lobbyists to public officials. However, the lobbyists have to disclose the value and the nature of that gift, and they have to do that in a monthly report."
In a recent blog post titled, Surest signs Blues are back? Missouri lawmakers, kin, got free tickets, Wagman observed that the December 2011 report featured a surprising amount of St. Louis Blues tickets.
It makes sense, really. According to Wagman, "In many ways, a hockey game is the perfect sporting event if you're hoping to chat up a lawmaker." Hockey is, of course, the only major sport that features two intermissions, meaning the entertainment comes with plenty of built-in facetime (unless the politicians are really into intermission tricycle races).
"The lobbyists want to provide something that will be entertaining to lawmakers -- that's why there are more Blues tickets this year and less free passes, I suspect, to see the feckless Rams," Wagman said. It's a good point. Under Ken Hitchcock, the Blues are playing some fantastic hockey right now. Who wouldn't want to go see them?
I was curious to see if Wagman's observation held up over a larger scale, so I called the Missouri Ethics Commission and tracked down their lobbyists' reports dating all the way back to 2007. Sure enough, the hockey expenditures rise and fall drastically with the success of the Blues.
Read More »from Best barometer of the St. Louis Blues’ success? Gifts from political lobbyists