Some lawmakers are calling for a reform to Missouri’s Campaign Finance and Ethics legislation.

Governor Jay Nixon is encouraging the General Assembly to work on the issue in their upcoming session. He is pushing to place strict limits on campaign contributions to candidates. Missouri’s ethics laws currently place no limit on campaign contributions to candidates.

As the law currently stands, those running for office can legally receive unlimited sums of money from special interests.

Senator Will Kraus, of Lee’s Summit prefiled legislation aimed at campaign finance and ethics reform. That bill has since been withdrawn. It is not currently clear if he plans to enter similar legislation once the Missouri Senate reconvenes on the eight of January.

Senate Bill 576 drew criticism from Secretary of State Jason Kander. He claimed that, while reform is necessary, the proposed legislation did not do enough. It also would have prevented teachers from being involved in the political process, which Kander claims is wrong and unconstitutional.

Press Release from Governor Jay Nixon

KANSAS CITY, Mo. – Gov. Jay Nixon today visited Union Station in Kansas City to renew his call for bipartisan ethics reform, including strict limits on campaign contributions to candidates. The Governor praised the growing bipartisan consensus on the need to strengthen Missouri’s weak ethics laws, which place no limits on campaign contributions to candidates.

“Openness and accountability are bedrock principles of our democracy, so I am encouraged at the growing bipartisan consensus on the need to make ethics reform a top priority of the upcoming legislative session,” said Gov. Nixon. “From successfully defending Missouri’s campaign finance limits before the U.S. Supreme Court as Attorney General, to calling for comprehensive ethics reform each year I’ve been Governor, I have fought to make sure Missourians have the open, honest and accountable government they deserve. Far and away the most important element to meaningful ethics reform is to reinstate real and effective contribution limits and end the corrosive flood of unlimited campaign money to candidates.”

Gov. Nixon was joined by Sen. Will Kraus (R-Lee’s Summit), Rep. Jon Carpenter (D-Gladstone), and Rep. Kevin McManus (D-Kansas City) who pledged to work to send comprehensive ethics reform, including campaign contribution limits, to the Governor’s desk in the upcoming legislative session.

“Missouri’s ethics laws don’t always match the will of our voters,” said Sen. Kraus. “That is why I am proud to stand with Governor Nixon and my colleagues in calling for comprehensive ethics reform, including campaign contribution limits. I look forward to working with my colleagues in the General Assembly to send a comprehensive ethics reform bill to the Governor’s desk in the upcoming legislative session.”

“Missourians deserve better than a system in which candidates can receive unlimited sums of money from special interests,” said Rep. McManus. “I appreciate the Governor’s consistent and tireless leadership on this issue and look forward to finally getting comprehensive ethics reform passed next year.”
“The era of unlimited campaign contributions has gone on in Missouri long enough,” said Rep. Carpenter. “I thank the Governor for continuing to bring much-needed attention to this issue and look forward to sending a comprehensive ethics reform bill to his desk next session.”

Throughout his career in public service, Gov. Nixon has been a strong proponent of transparent and accountable government, including strict campaign contribution limits. In 1999, Gov. Nixon successfully argued the landmark Nixon vs. Shrink Missouri Government PAC case before the U.S. Supreme Court [No. 98-963, 10/5/1999], which upheld Missouri’s system of contribution limits. These limits had passed overwhelmingly with 74 percent of the vote in 1994.

Statement from Secretary of State Jason Kander

Jefferson City, Mo. — Secretary of State Jason Kander today released the following statement on campaign finance and ethics reform legislation in the 2014 session:

“I am pleased to see Governor Nixon bringing together legislators of both parties today to work on the important issue of campaign finance and ethics reform. However, as those conversations move forward, I believe it’s important to recognize that legislation like Senate Bill 576 does not come close to what Missouri needs. Campaign finance limits are ineffective without a limit on political money laundering. This bill does nothing to discourage the targets of Missouri Ethics Commission investigations from lying to get out of trouble – something that is, amazingly, currently legal in our state. Placing $50 per item limits on lobbyist gifts is a loophole through which legislators could still have lobbyists take them to a $50 breakfast, $50 lunch and $50 dinner every day. And preventing teachers from being involved in the political process is both wrong and unconstitutional.”