Columbia Daily Tribune Endorses Amendment 1

Originally in the Columbia Daily Tribune on October 28, 2018:

Ballot Amendment 1, better known as Clean Missouri, isn’t perfect. If it has one key fault it’s that the amendment might be trying to do too much.

But trying to do too much, in this case, is better than doing nothing at all.

Clean Missouri’s aim matches its name, to clean up and prevent corruption big and small that has invaded statewide politics.

If passed by voters Nov. 5, Amendment 1 would:

Impose a $5 limit on the value of lobbyists’ gifts to lawmakers.

Bar former lawmakers and legislative staff from working as lobbyists for two years after leaving office.

Limit campaign donations to $2,500 to candidates for the state Senate and $2,000 to candidates for the Missouri House.

Count donations to legislative candidates from political action committees that have one donor that provides more than 50 percent of the funding against that donor’s personal limit for candidate donations.

Establish an office known as the state demographer to draw House and Senate districts to be competitive between the two major parties, with other provisions intended to make the districts compact, with lines that do not cross the boundaries of political subdivisions.

None of these changes would harm voters or the electoral process. It will help reign in harmful practices that give special interests and partisan politicking a louder voice than Missouri voters.

The limit on campaign gifts is overdue. Whenever a politician accepts gifts, whether it be a t-bone dinner or event tickets, the appearance of impropriety can’t be escaped. The truth is some politicians can be influenced by such gifts. Lobbyists will tell you that gifts don’t impact public policy debates. If that were true then why bother with gift-giving at all? The practice’s existence is proof of its usefulness.

Most importantly, however, is the role Amendment 1 will play in cleaning up Missouri’s gerrymandered mess when it comes to legislative districts. Boone County is a perfect example of this.

In Missouri’s 50th House District, it’s impossible to travel from one side to the other without using a boat to cross the Missouri River or driving outside the district. The 44th House District snakes south across the Randolph County and Boone County border to encompass most of Columbia’s Third Ward. The 47th House District, like the 44th and 50th, also crosses county lines.

Columbia alone is large enough to fit three House districts inside it. Instead only the 45th and 46th House Districts are contained within its borders. This has minimized the voice and will of Columbia residents in the Missouri General Assembly.

Amendment 1 will honor existing geographical and political boundaries. That alone makes this amendment a necessary yes vote on Nov. 6.

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Columbia Daily Tribune Endorses Amendment 1

In the July 20 paper:

Everyone should want fairly drawn legislative districts that aren’t designed to give any political party favor. It’s troubling that any politician would say otherwise, but we’d be naive to assume the parties aren’t constantly jockeying for any advantage they can get, including when it comes to the shape of districts.

However, we will never achieve government that truly works for its constituents until we can eliminate as much partisan gamesmanship as possible. The Clean Missouri plan goes a long way toward doing just that.

 

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We. Did. It. Clean Missouri just submitted 346,956 signatures!

On Thursday, May 3, the Clean Missouri coalition submitted 346,956 signatures to the Secretary of State’s office in Jefferson City, more than enough to qualify the initiative petition for the November 2018 ballot! The constitutional amendment will increase integrity, transparency and accountability in state government.

Volunteers who have been part of the signature gathering effort gathered for the submission of more than 200 boxes of petitions with signatures, gathered by over 1600 volunteers and canvassers, from all 115 counties in Missouri.

This would not have been possible without the tireless volunteers, dedicated coalition members, and 24,449 donations from supporters!

Watch and share the video:

The Clean Missouri amendment will increase integrity, transparency and accountability in our state legislature. It will:

  • lower campaign contribution limits for state legislative candidates
  • eliminate almost all lobbyist gifts in the General Assembly
  • require politicians to wait two years before becoming lobbyists
  • require that legislative records be open to the public
  • ensure that neither political party is given an unfair advantage when new maps are drawn after the next census, by asking a nonpartisan expert to draw fair state legislative district maps, which would then be reviewed by a citizen commission

“Lobbyists and a small group of big donors have too much control over Missouri state government,” said Rev. Cassandra Gould of Jefferson City. “But it doesn’t have to be this way. We’re going to make our state government more transparent, limit the power of big money in our legislature, and make sure we can hold legislators accountable when they fail to act in the public’s interest.”

“Lobbyists reported giving more than $1 million in gifts to legislators of both parties last year, and almost $900,000 a year on average. That’s nuts!” said Laura Umphenour of Springfield. “No matter what party you believe in, this isn’t right.”

“We’re not waiting on the politicians and lobbyists to fix themselves,” said Jeff Jones, a fourth-generation farmer in Callaway County. “We can all see how big money drives the agenda in Jefferson City, and we’ve had enough.”

“We need a state government that is open and accountable one that puts people ahead of lobbyists, wealthy donors or partisan politics,” said Elizabeth Davidson of St. Louis County.

“We’ve got a bipartisan problem in Jefferson City, and Clean Missouri is a bipartisan solution,” said Martin Tennant of Kansas City. “I’m grateful we get to vote for it and pass it this November.”

“Year after year, political appointees draw district lines to help re-elect party insiders, even if they haven’t represented the best interests of their constituents,” said John Saxton of St. Louis, a former member of the St. Louis City Republican Central Committee. “Voters should be picking politicians, but it’s upside down right now: political insiders are picking their voters. This amendment will require that maps be crafted with clear, transparent criteria to ensure fair and competitive districts, and that a nonpartisan expert is part of the process. That’s a big reason I gathered signatures for Clean Missouri.”

“When we get big money out of state politics, we force candidates to earn our votes, debate the issues, and represent us — their constituents,” explained Khadijah Wilson of St. Louis. “Too often, the only people running for political office are the rich or well connected, or people who cave to special interests once they are elected. This amendment levels the playing field, making it easier for citizens to run for office. That is good for Missouri’s democracy, and we need more regular people looking out for us.”

“The Clean Missouri amendment will make sure legislators focus on important priorities, not what special interests and extremists want,” said former Republican state senator and current Lee’s Summit Councilmember Bob Johnson. “Voters should be able to hold politicians accountable in fair and competitive general elections. That’s why I was an early supporter of the effort, and will be voting yes on November 6.”

Signatures will now be counted and verified by local election authorities, and then the Clean Missouri amendment will be certified for the November 6, 2018 ballot.

Now it’s time to get the word out and win! To get help increase integrity, transparency, and accountability in government, visit http://www.cleanmissouri.org/volunteer.

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My motivation

We caught up with Lyn, a volunteer collecting signatures with Missouri Jobs with Justice Voter Action. Read more below about why she’s involved in the Clean Missouri campaign.

Q: What drew you to the Clean Missouri campaign?

A: You know, I believe that campaign finance reform is absolutely necessary for restoring democracy in our state.

Q: How will the Clean Missouri initiative change the political landscape in our state?

A: My hope is the state legislature will be more responsive to the voters and act in their best interest instead of their largest campaign contributors.

Q: What’s the best thing about volunteering with Clean Missouri?

A: I’ve really been surprised by how enthusiastic most people are about signing the petition. So many folks thank us for the work we’re doing once they’ve signed. It really motivates me to keep volunteering and gathering signatures!

Q: Is there anything else you want to share about your experience?

A: I enjoy meeting the other volunteers! We all come from different walks of life and have different reasons to be a part of this campaign. It shows how important the Clean Missouri initiative is and why it’s so necessary for Missouri.

Now, it’s your turn.

Help us get big money out of Missouri politics — sign up to volunteer and join the Clean Missouri team today.

Here are the facts – The Clean Missouri amendment will:

  • lower campaign contribution limits for state legislative candidates
  • eliminate almost all lobbyist gifts
  • require politicians wait two years before becoming lobbyists
  • require that legislative records be open to the public
  • ensure that neither political party is given an unfair advantage when new maps are drawn after the next census, by asking a nonpartisan expert to draw fair legislative district maps, which would then be reviewed by a citizen commission
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#TBT from the Blue Springs Examiner: “Missouri needs to overhaul the way it draws political boundaries”

In 2012, Missouri redrew Congressional, State House and State Senate district lines in a drawn-out, extremely partisan process. The Blue Springs Examiner highlighted this process in 2012.

“The antics in Jefferson City during the past few weeks are more reason to drive home a point we’ve been making in this space for some time: Missouri needs to overhaul the way it draws political boundaries.”

It’s time for a change.

Here are the facts – The Clean Missouri amendment will:

  • lower campaign contribution limits for state legislative candidates
  • eliminate almost all lobbyist gifts
  • require politicians wait two years before becoming lobbyists
  • require that legislative records be open to the public
  • ensure that neither political party is given an unfair advantage when new maps are drawn after the next census, by asking a nonpartisan expert to draw fair legislative district maps, which would then be reviewed by a citizen commission
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When Missouri Was the Wild Wild West

After the Missouri Legislature repealed contribution limits in 2008, campaign spending exploded.

In 2000, Missouri statewide and legislative candidates raised just under $40 million. However, by the 2016 cycle, donations tripled with campaign contributions topping $120,000,000.

But that’s not all.

Today donations come from fewer, bigger donors, and the donations of regular people matter less and less.

Missourians deserve better.

The passage of Amendment 2 in 2016 was a step in the right direction, but flaws in the amendment language and legal challenges have left serious loopholes in Missouri campaign finance law.

The Clean Missouri initiative will implement new contribution limits of $2,500 for State Senate candidates and $2,000 for State House candidates, increasing integrity and confidence in our state government.

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Missouri Legislators Take $872,000 in Lobbyist Gifts — Every Year

Lobbyists spend an average of $872,000 each year on gifts for politicians in Jefferson City. That’s almost a million dollars in meals, drinks, sports tickets, and other freebies.

Every year.

Lobbyists spend an average of $872,000 each year on gifts for politicians in Jefferson City. That’s almost a million dollars in meals, drinks, sports tickets, and other freebies.

Every year.

It gets worse. We don’t know who actually received over $8 Million of these gifts. Because of a loophole in current ethics laws, when lobbyists report their freebies as going to a ‘group’ or ‘committee,’ they don’t have to reveal names of the individuals receiving those gifts.

No matter what party you believe in, this is not right.

But it doesn’t have to be this way.

That’s why we’re coming together to get big money out of state politics and make sure our elected officials represent us. The Clean Missouri initiative will close loopholes and ban all lobbyist gifts over $5 – making state government more transparent and our legislators more accountable.

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