Lobbyists' freebies become harder to track in Missouri

ST. LOUIS (AP) -- It's becoming harder to track how much money is being spent to catch the ear of Missouri lawmakers as they increasingly reimburse lobbyists for freebies.

The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports that reimbursing lobbyists keeps lawmakers names off lobbyists' monthly expense reports.

The reimbursements become controversial when campaign funds are used to pay back lobbyists. That's because state law says campaign contributions "shall not be converted to any personal use."

Legislators who defend using campaign funds to reimburse lobbyists say attending dinners and ballgames is part of the job. They say legislation is part of the discussion.

But critics say the practice of spending campaign contributions on private outings with lobbyists skirts the edge of what the law allows.

Recently, lobbyist expense reports have been used against candidates in elections.