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GOP Missouri Rep. Noel Torpey quits to become a lobbyist

Missouri state Rep. Noel Torpey this year pushed a bill aimed at requiring lawmakers to wait two years before becoming lobbyists.

Torpey, an Independence Republican, wanted Missouri to match federal rules requiring members of Congress to wait two years before they can lobby.

“Even the feds got that right,” Torpey told Jeff Fox at the Independence Examiner in January.

Now, the two-term lawmaker who made ethics reform a priority, is preparing to resign from the General Assembly...to become a lobbyist.

Torpey, who was just re-elected to a third term last month, will become executive director of the Fair Energy Rate Action Fund. The group was formed in 2008 and lobbies lawmakers and regulators to keep rates low for the AmerenUE utility.

Torpey told the Missouri Times that pushing for low utility rates was “honorable” because that helped poor Missourians. Torpey also said the new job would enable him to spend more time with his family.

He did not return telephone calls to The Star.

But in his interview with Fox, Torpey explained his opposition to lawmakers going directly from the General Assembly to the lobbying ranks.

Torpey pointed out that he was chairman of the House Small Business Committee. Say the National Federal of Independent Business, a strong advocate for small-business issues, wanted to hire him at a high salary. Advocates of ethics reform would say such an offer could have a big impact on Torpey’s actions as chair.

Nothing bars such an arrangement from occurring, Torpey said.

“There’s no rule.”

Torpey was planning on pushing again in the 2015 session for ethics reform.

As the news spread in the Capitol, Torpey won praise from his fellow Republicans and even House Democratic leader Jake Hummel, who told the Times that the fund was “getting a good man.”

Torpey’s departure will be a loss for Kansas City because he often handled bills important to the city.

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