Frankly, if legislators, who aren’t paid very much in this state thus making a “Dutch treat” unreasonable, also had open-ended expense accounts to cover such sessions, going to conventions and similar the taxpayers footing such bills would have far more reason to be furious. Despite sometimes jaw-dropping amounts most of what occurs is really a non-issue ... except for:
1. If any or all the tens of thousands constituents Mrs. Dempsey and the other individuals represent wanted similar face time with their elected representative to discuss their favorite issue, and invited them out and offered to buy the coffee, could or would they be fit into the schedule? Is it “favoritism” to elite interests to give them preference over ordinary folks?
2. How does one spend more than $100 a plate on such a meal? Sure, a fast-food place or buffet is not conducive to discussing important topics in peace and quiet, but a really good $10 plate of pulled pork in civilized settings is not hard to find.
3. And what’s this “and guest” thing sometimes showing up at a similar $100 a plate? If a legislator needs a bodyguard or third-party witness present how is that a “business expense” for the lobbyists? And ... spouses don’t vote, pillow talk notwithstanding.
By the way, it appears that lawyers are especially cheap “dates” for legislators. One locally reported a $6 breakfast with one, another a $15 lunch.
Actually, that sounds like about the right amount for the presently missing regulatory “cap” on such meetings.