When Chiefs Play, Lobbyists Pay To Get Missouri And Kansas Politicians Into Big Games

Public officials in Missouri and Kansas have accepted more than $30,000 in football tickets and related gifts, like parking, since 2017 when the Patrick Mahomes era began. The vast majority of the tickets are either explicitly linked to Chiefs games or are almost certainly Chiefs-related spending, based on the size of the gifts and date of the spending, according to a review of publicly filed lobbyist spending reports by The Star.

Evergy, an electric utility that services much of the Kansas City metro, is responsible for much of the gift-giving. The company has often had business before the city in recent years and is currently studying whether to get involved in a city-led project to build a massive solar farm near Kansas City International Airport. Spire, a natural gas utility that operates in Missouri but not Kansas, has also given a smaller but still substantial amount. Spire is currently negotiating the terms of its franchise agreement with the city. Renewal of the current 10-year contract would give the gas company the authority to operate within the city in exchange for fees to the city.

Missouri voters were troubled enough by lobbyist gifts that in 2018 they voted to ban most gifts to state lawmakers as part of the Clean Missouri initiative. However, other public officials like mayors and city council members weren’t included, leaving lobbyists free to continue showering them with tickets, meals and other largesse.

Both Evergy and Spire have sought to influence the city’s recent Climate Protection & Resiliency Plan, which aims at transitioning Kansas City to carbon neutrality by 2040. The companies spent months attempting to influence the plan, with company officials objecting to commitments in the plan to move away from fossil fuels like coal and natural gas.

By Jonathan Shorman, Kevin Hardy, and Katie Bernard UPDATED. Kansas City Star. February 17, 2023.

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