Rep. Dan Hawkins, R-Wichita, is the recipient of the most lobbyist spending so far this year – $2,721 on meals and other itemized spending between January and August. Hawkins, who chairs two important committees, argues that lunch and dinner are the best times to meet with people and discuss issues. Lawmakers do have hectic schedules, and meeting with lobbyists can be an important part of the legislative process. But there is nothing stopping Hawkins and other lawmakers from paying for their own meals when they go out to eat with lobbyists. That’s what their per diem is for. Lawmakers like to say that they aren’t influenced by a free lunch. But why would lobbyists spend more than $400,000 so far this year wining and dining lawmakers if they didn’t expect to get something in return? – Phillip Brownlee
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