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Watchdog: Follow the Money

Missouri groups spent $200k on lawmakers' trips

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Associated Press,Watchdog,Watchdog Blog,Campaign Finance,Lobbying,Follow the Money

ST. LOUIS — Industry and special interest groups have spent more than $200,000 in the last three years on trips for Missouri lawmakers.

Records reviewed by The St. Louis Post-Dispatch showed the travel-related spending in many cases included airline tickets, hotel rooms, meals and convention fees. While the lobbyist spending is legal in Missouri, critics say the practice creates conflicts of interest when legislators go to vote on issues important to those lobbyists and industries.

Those who defend lobbyist spending say providing trips focused on giving lawmakers valuable information is not the same thing as plying legislators with perks.

The Missouri Biotechnology Association, which promotes the growth of Missouri's biotechnology and biomedical industries, spent more than $40,000 between 2011 and 2013 on tours of Missouri biotech facilities and other events in Missouri.

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