Lawmaker sued over unpaid tab for birthday party
Wednesday, March 23, 2011
ST. LOUIS (AP) — A hotel is suing Missouri state Sen. Robin Wright-Jones over an unpaid tab for her 60th birthday party, claiming Capitol lobbyists picked up some — but not all — of the $6,000 cost.
The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported Wednesday that the suit was filed this week by the Four Seasons Hotel, which shares a building with Lumiere Casino in downtown St. Louis. Wright-Jones, a Democrat from St. Louis, did not respond to messages seeking comment.
The lawsuit filed in St. Louis claims the tab for the party in January 2010 was $6,000. It alleges Wright-Jones owes the Four Seasons $3,658 for the unpaid portion and additional costs.
The newspaper cites court papers and other public documents suggesting that at least $2,000 of the bill was paid by lobbyists who work in Jefferson City.
Invoices submitted with the lawsuit reflect four payments of $500 each. The Post-Dispatch said the checks correspond to four $500 payments that appear on Ethics Commission forms filed by lobbyists who spent money on Wright-Jones’ behalf last year.
Lobbyist Thomas L. Holloway, who represents the Missouri State Medical Association, filed disclosure forms indicating a March 2010 expenditure for Wright-Jones, listing the reason as “birthday party.”
Veteran lobbyist John Bardgett acknowledged he received a call last year from a Wright-Jones aide “asking if I could assist in paying for part of a birthday party.”
Lobbyists in Missouri routinely buy meals, gifts and trips for lawmakers. It is legal if disclosed.
Bardgett, whose clients include the Cardinals and the Las Vegas company that runs Lumiere, said Wright-Jones’ request did not strike him as unusual. When lawmakers throw a party, he said, it’s often lobbyists who are asked to pay.
A menu attached to the suit showed that the party featured coconut shrimp hors d’oeuvres, a “made-to-order pasta station,” roasted sirloin of beef with port wine sauce and a vanilla sheet cake with strawberries reading “Happy 60th Birthday Robin!”
Information from: St. Louis Post-Dispatch, http://www.stltoday.com