Columbia Daily Tribune Endorses Clean Missouri

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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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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Republican support for Clean Missouri ballot measure continues to grow

Supporters include former US Senator John Danforth, Hon. Paul DeGregorio, State Senator Rob Schaaf, and numerous local officials

The Clean Missouri campaign today unveiled its “Republicans for Clean Missouri” coalition. These GOP leaders are joining a broad and growing coalition of Republicans, Democrats, independents, community leaders, and editorial boards across the state, including the Washington Missourian, Kansas City Star, and St. Louis Post-Dispatch, who have publicly endorsed the full package of desperately-needed reforms in the Clean Missouri initiative.

The legislative reform package will increase ethics, integrity, transparency, and accountability in state government.

The Republicans for Clean Missouri coalition includes:

  • Former U.S. Senator John Danforth
  • Hon. Paul DeGregorio, former Chair of the U.S. Election Assistance Commission and former St. Louis County Election Board Director
  • Trevor Potter, appointed to the Federal Election Commission by President George H.W. Bush; and president of the nonpartisan Campaign Legal Center
  • State Sen. Rob Schaaf
  • State Rep. Nick Marshall
  • Former State Senator and Current Lee’s Summit Councilmember Bob Johnson
  • Former Sen. Jim Lembke
  • Mayor Clifford Harvey, Weston
  • Dick Bauer, former Assistant Director, St. Louis County Election Board
  • Vern Middleton, Republican business leader
  • John & Gail Russell, Buchanan County GOP former committee members
  • John Saxton, St. Louis GOP Central Committee former member

Some individual endorsers’ statements include:

Former U.S. Sen. John Danforth (R-MO): “Clean Missouri creates an independent process with clear, transparent criteria to ensure no party is given an unfair advantage when new maps are drawn after the next census. Clean Missouri will ensure fair and competitive elections so elected officials cannot take their voters for granted and must earn their support. I’m proud to be part of a bipartisan group of reformers to ensure voters come first — and that Missourians’ voices will always be heard in our democracy. Clean Missouri will increase integrity, transparency, and accountability in state government.”

Paul DeGregorio, Former Chairman, U.S. Election Assistance Commission and former St. Louis County Election Board Director: “In recent years Missourians have experienced serious political corruption, much of it due to the influence of big money and the lack of ethics by public officials. There are many steps we need to take to address this serious issue. Clean Missouri is clearly a step in the right direction to put measures in place that will increase transparency and accountability, and give us more competitive elections.”

Sen. Rob Schaaf (R-St. Joseph): “Clean Missouri would eliminate almost all lobbyist gifts in the General Assembly, banning any single gift worth more than $5. … [T]here’s no such thing as a free lunch, and that’s why lobbyists give the gifts: they know they’ll get something in return.”

Former Senator and current Councilmember Bob Johnson (R-Lee’s Summit): “The Clean Missouri amendment will make sure legislators focus on important priorities, not what special interests and extremists want. 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.”

Former Sen. Jim Lembke (R-Lemay): “Clean Missouri reforms our broken redistricting process, which is driven by insiders in both parties to protect powerful incumbents. Additionally, many conservative colleagues rightly criticize that the process often falls to judges who draw maps in secret. The Clean Missouri amendment sets out a fair process in which both parties would have a say in picking an independent expert, who then would draw fair, competitive maps according to clear, transparent criteria. Maps would then be reviewed by a citizen commission to ensure neither political party is given an unfair advantage, resulting in a plan that is representative of voters’ preferences. Districts would still be required to be compact and follow existing city or county lines where possible.”

Mayor Clifford Harvey of Weston, MO: “I signed the Clean Missouri Initiative petition, and will be voting for the desperately-needed amendment in November. … I’m a conservative Republican, but good government is something we should all be able to agree on. No matter which party you support, your elected officials should be working for you, for my own constituents, and for everyday Missourians.”

Former St. Louis Republican Central Committee Member John Saxton: “I gathered signatures for Clean Missouri, which would decrease the corrosive influence of special interest lobbyists and money, and make Republican votes like mine matter in otherwise safe Democratic districts. In light of the legislature’s lack of action to pass meaningful ethics laws, this is one major reform that fellow conservatives can join me in supporting.”

National conservative reform expert Trevor Potter, appointed to the Federal Election Commission by President George H.W. Bush, and current president of the nonpartisan Campaign Legal Center: “Clean Missouri addresses two of the major problems facing our democracy: partisan gerrymandering and the influence of special interests over elected officials… These common sense solutions would help ensure Missouri’s government reflects the will of its citizens.”

The Clean Missouri amendment will increase integrity, transparency and accountability in the Missouri General Assembly.

The Clean Missouri initiative will:

  • eliminate almost all lobbyist gifts in the General Assembly
  • lower campaign contribution limits for state legislative candidates
  • 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 adding criteria for fairness and competitiveness of the overall map, which will be reviewed by a citizen commission and keep compact and contiguous districts

With its broad coalition of support from across the state, the Clean Missouri coalition submitted 346,956 signatures to the Secretary of State’s office on May 3, more than enough to qualify the initiative petition for the November 2018 ballot.

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

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Report: How Missouri Lawmakers Ignore the Sunshine Law

Clean Missouri has released a new report on the lack of transparency in the General Assembly, by the numbers—with some colorful stories.

Official meetings are supposed to be open to the public, but there have been government meetings held in private country clubs, and journalists have even been denied access to public hearings. The state legislature even keeps their own records secret, yet expects others to follow open government laws.

A recent Missouri court ruling has allowed the legislature to essentially ignore some of the Sunshine Law, despite bipartisan agreement that the Missouri General Assembly needs to be more transparent and accountable.

A few highlights:

  • Both Republican and Democratic State Auditors have called for the legislature to come into compliance with the Sunshine Law.
  • Legislators from both parties have refused to turn over their emails to reporters in Sunshine requests. At the same time, legislators from both parties have demonstrated that compliance is possible.
  • Reporters and citizens have been denied the right to record public hearings.
  • Legislative committees have met in private country clubs and restaurants instead of publicly accessible hearing rooms where proceedings may have been recorded. Beyond what has been disclosed in lobbyist gift records, official House journals show committees have held sham hearings all over Jefferson City at private locations — including 16 at the Jefferson City Country Club and an additional 16 times at other eateries around town. At least seven sham hearings were held in the offices of special interests with business before the state.

The full report is available at http://www.cleanmissouri.org/sunshine.

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Volunteer signature gatherers excited to increase integrity in Jeff City this November

Year after year, the Missouri General Assembly has failed to limit the food, drinks, tickets, and travel that politicians take from paid lobbyists. Legislators accept an average of $885,022 in gifts from lobbyists each year.

“People are frustrated,” says volunteer Will Bolden of Olivette. So in 2017, he and other concerned Missourians hit the streets for a year to gather signatures for the Clean Missouri ballot initiative to increase integrity, transparency, and accountability in Jefferson City.

By May 2018, more than 1600 volunteers and canvassers had gathered 346,956 signatures, more than enough to place it onto the November 2018 ballot. Among other desperately needed reforms, the Clean Missouri initiative will eliminate almost all lobbyist gifts in the General Assembly by banning any single gift worth more than $5.

Here are the stories of a few of those volunteers who are looking forward to passing Clean Missouri in November 2018 and seeing their hard work pay off on Election Day.

John Saxton lives in St. Louis, and is a former member of the city’s Republican Central Committee. He gathered about 80 signatures for Clean Missouri, mostly at a library and at his neighborhood meeting. John cares deeply about integrity in government, previously ran as the Republican nominee for state House, and knocked doors for John McCain because of his commitment to ending the dominance of big money special interests. He’s also looking forward to having Republican votes like his matter in otherwise safe Democratic districts. John enjoyed interacting with his neighbors who responded well and agreed on the need for change. He’s planning to speak this summer and fall on the need to pass Clean Missouri.

Laura Umphenour lives in Springfield. She has been frustrated for a long time that the legislature ignores the voices of Missourians because of the influence of big money special interests. Over the last year, Laura gathered over 1200 signatures, mostly at libraries. She also gathered downtown, at events, at parks, at the DMV, and at community centers. Laura enjoyed that people from across the political spectrum would respond well when she told them what the Clean Missouri ballot initiative would do for our state when Missourians vote it into the Constitution. Laura has hand-made Clean Missouri signs in her yard, and is looking forward to a summer and fall of telling neighbors “vote yes on November 6!”

Martin Tennant lives in Kansas City. He gathered many of his 200 signatures at the Brookside St. Patrick’s Day parade, and outside a church on Brookside Boulevard at voting time. He says he enjoyed “feeling like I was doing something tangible to repair voters’ distrust of the electoral process and of our elected representatives’ motives. I was also pleased with how many voters expressed their appreciation for our efforts to clean up Missouri politics. I felt thankful that we have this petitioning process.”

John Bohney lives in Chesterfield. He gathered 1600 signatures, most of them at libraries and special events. He enjoyed interacting with like-minded people, and tells a funny story about one woman who was signing a petition. “One time I was holding the signature board, and the lady’s hand inadvertently pressed against mine. I said, ‘What will my wife say when I tell her we were holding hands?’ She said, ‘You might tell her I’m 87 years old.’”

Will Bolden lives in Olivette. He gathered about 60 signatures at churches and in a Kirkwood neighborhood. “We just rolled up our sleeves and said let’s get it done. We grabbed our sheets and went out the door. People were responsive and receptive to what we were doing. We had good reception everywhere,” he said. “When we were in Kirkwood that Saturday, it was hot. I mean HOT. It was very humid, but we made it OK—it was worth it because we want to get big money out of politics. All of the people we talked to agreed with the mission. People are frustrated.”

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Report: Missouri Lawmakers Take An Average of $885,000 in Lobbyist Gifts Every Year

Today, Clean Missouri released a new report on the Jeff City lobbyist gift culture, by the numbers—with a few colorful stories, as well.

A few highlights:

  • Lobbyists have reported giving an average of $885,020 in gifts to the Missouri General Assembly every year, for years 2004-2017.
  • The reported gift total for 2017 of $1,070,653 is the highest on record at the Missouri Ethics Commision. The second highest reported total was $1,006,050 in 2006. In just the first few months of 2018 for which records are available, legislators had already taken $248,004 in freebies.
  • Almost 70% of the gifts reported since 2004 — more than $8 million worth — have been reported as going to legislative caucuses, committees, and groups. This loophole in reporting effectively hides from public view which legislators, staffers and family members are taking most of the gifts in Missouri.
  • Missouri’s lobbyist gift culture crosses partisan lines. Of the top 10 gift recipients from 2004 to 2018, six have been Democratic lawmakers, four Republicans. Meanwhile, a growing bipartisan group of House and Senate leaders have sworn off gifts entirely, showing the way forward for a gift-free Jefferson City. Forty-seven state representatives and ten state senators have zero dollar balances for 2018 in the Missouri Ethics Commission’s lobbyist gift database.
  • Legislative leadership has repeatedly broken promises and failed to reform lobbyist gifts. Dozens of reform bills have been filed in the past decade, by legislators of both parties — but the General Assembly remains a no-limits world when it comes to free booze, food, tickets, junkets and other gifts.
  • Every one of our bordering states has stronger limits on lobbyist gifts than Missouri.

The full report is available at http://www.cleanmissouri.org/lobbyists.

Missourians will have the opportunity to end Jefferson City’s lobbyist gift culture for good by passing the Clean Missouri initiative on the November ballot. The Clean Missouri measure will ban any single gift worth more than $5. Full initiative text is available here.

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A Broad Coalition of Support for Clean Missouri

The Clean Missouri coalition is showing that even in 2018, conservatives and progressives can come together to ensure that voters’ voices are heard in Jefferson City. A growing number of Republicans, Democrats, and independents have publicly endorsed the full package of desperately-needed reforms in the Clean Missouri initiative.

Examples of public support for Clean Missouri include:

  • Sen. Rob Schaaf (R-St. Joseph): “Clean Missouri would eliminate almost all lobbyist gifts in the General Assembly, banning any single gift worth more than $5. … [T]here’s no such thing as a free lunch, and that’s why lobbyists give the gifts: they know they’ll get something in return.”
  • Rev. Starsky D. Wilson of St. Louis, President & CEO of the Deaconess Foundation and Pastor of Saint John’s Church: “The Clean Missouri amendment will level the playing field for the citizens who want to run for office because they understand the struggles of working families — and are tired of politicians ignoring them.”
  • Former Sen. Jim Lembke (R-Lemay): “Clean Missouri reforms our broken redistricting process, which is driven by insiders in both parties to protect powerful incumbents. Additionally, many conservative colleagues rightly criticize that the process often falls to judges who draw maps in secret. The Clean Missouri amendment sets out a fair process in which both parties would have a say in picking an independent expert, who then would draw fair, competitive maps according to clear, transparent criteria. Maps would then be reviewed by a citizen commission to ensure neither political party is given an unfair advantage, resulting in a plan that is representative of voters’ preferences. Districts would still be required to be compact and follow existing city or county lines where possible.”
  • Pastor Cassandra Gould, Executive Director of Missouri Faith Voices: “Lobbyists and a small group of big donors have too much control over Missouri state government. 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.”
  • Rhonda Perry, a grain and livestock farmer from Howard County, and the Program Director for the Missouri Rural Crisis Center: “Big money and powerful lobbyists drive the agenda at the Capitol, and political insiders draw the districts to protect their own jobs — not ours. We need to level the playing field for ordinary citizens, and that’s why I’m excited to support Clean Missouri.”
  • Former Senator and current Councilmember Bob Johnson (R-Lee’s Summit): “The Clean Missouri amendment will make sure legislators focus on important priorities, not what special interests and extremists want. 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.”
  • Mayor Clifford Harvey of Weston, MO: “I signed the Clean Missouri Initiative petition, and will be voting for the desperately-needed amendment in November. … I’m a conservative Republican, but good government is something we should all be able to agree on. No matter which party you support, your elected officials should be working for you, for my own constituents, and for everyday Missourians.”
  • Former St. Louis Republican Central Committee Member John Saxton: “I gathered signatures for Clean Missouri, which would decrease the corrosive influence of special interest lobbyists and money, and make Republican votes like mine matter in otherwise safe Democratic districts. In light of the legislature’s lack of action to pass meaningful ethics laws, this is one major reform that fellow conservatives can join me in supporting.”
  • National conservative reform expert Trevor Potter, appointed to the Federal Election Commission by President George H.W. Bush, and current president of the nonpartisan Campaign Legal Center: “Clean Missouri addresses two of the major problems facing our democracy: partisan gerrymandering and the influence of special interests over elected officials… These common sense solutions would help ensure Missouri’s government reflects the will of its citizens.”

The Clean Missouri amendment will increase integrity, transparency and accountability in the Missouri General Assembly. 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 legislative district maps, which would then be reviewed by a citizen commission

 

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Jeff City politicians broke their promise to ban lobbyist gifts. Again.

The Missouri General Assembly has adjourned without taking any action to end Jefferson City’s obscene lobbyist gift culture.

Again.

Missourians are done waiting for politicians and lobbyists in Jefferson City to clean up their act.

Since 2004, lobbyists have given an average of $885,020 worth of free meals, drinks, tickets and other gifts to members of the General Assembly, their staff members, and their family members. Just last year, lobbyists reported a whopping $1,070,653 in gifts to the General Assembly.

 

To make matters worse, 68% of the gifts reported to the Missouri Ethics Commission since 2004 have been listed as going to legislative groups, meaning Missourians have no idea who actually accepted $8,660,463 worth of gifts in the past 15 years.

The Clean Missouri initiative will eliminate almost all lobbyist gifts in the General Assembly by banning any single gift worth more than $5.

With its broad coalition of support from across the state, the Clean Missouri coalition submitted 346,956 signatures to the Secretary of State’s office on May 3, more than enough to qualify the initiative petition for the November 2018 ballot.

A growing number of Republicans, Democrats, and independents have publicly endorsed the full package of desperately-needed reforms in the Clean Missouri initiative to increase integrity, transparency and accountability in the Missouri General Assembly.

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.

Year House Senate Group Total
2004 $124,169.18 $27,621.73 $822,777.41 $974,568.32
2005 $121,438.86 $46,188.79 $823,886.63 $991,514.28
2006 $130,518.74 $51,622.09 $823,909.48 $1,006,050.31
2007 $238,936.73 $82,006.16 $581,903.88 $902,846.77
2008 $214,720.10 $86,581.75 $621,931.94 $923,233.79
2009 $265,010.19 $114,100.03 $536,343.41 $915,453.63
2010 $243,514.30 $100,886.58 $508,716.20 $853,117.08
2011 $232,563.80 $117,482.22 $597,990.53 $948,036.55
2012 $223,114.15 $104,293.33 $540,691.04 $868,098.52
2013 $229,757.82 $113,090.48 $612,147.69 $954,995.99
2014 $188,888.63 $73,856.28 $587,820.60 $850,565.51
2015 $204,723.28 $76,725.73 $327,747.87 $609,196.88
2016 $175,194.18 $62,508.87 $284,252.01 $521,955.06
2017 $140,625.92 $63,347.24 $866,680.06 $1,070,653.22
2018 (Jan-Mar) $39,950.93 $20,217.17 $123,664.58 $183,832.68
Grand Total $2,773,126.81 $1,140,528.45 $8,660,463.33 $12,574,118.59
Average $195,226.85 $80,022.23 $609,771.34 $885,020.42
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The Washington Missourian Endorses Amendment 1: “If you want to clean up politics in Missouri, you have to turn off the flow of money that is pouring into state government.”

In the May 11 paper:

A group called Clean Missouri delivered more than 340,000 petition signatures to the Missouri Secretary of State’s office calling for a ballot initiative on ethics reform in state government.

You may have missed the story in the flurry of news reports on the alleged unethical conduct of Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens.

If enough signatures are verified, the package of reforms would be placed on November’s ballot where voters would decide whether to include them in the state’s constitution.

Chief among the reforms are measures that would curtail the influence of lobbyists in state government. One would ban lobbyist gifts to lawmakers of more than $5 and another would mandate a two-year waiting period before ex-lawmakers and former legislative employees could lobby.

The ballot initiative also would cap campaign contributions at $2,500 for state senators and $2,000 for state representatives. Additionally, it would require that legislative records be open to the public and would establish a “nonpartisan state demographer” to draw more neutral legislative districts.

It’s no surprise the reforms are already drawing criticism in the Legislature. Notably, the measure calling for a state demographer has been labeled a partisan attempt to weaken the Republican majority in the General Assembly.

Here is what you can be assured of: If these ethics reforms are going to become the law, it will take a vote by the people. The Legislature does not have the will to enact these changes which are desperately needed.

Gov. Greitens won the governor’s office by promising to eliminate the corruption in Jefferson City. His administration is the epitome of a dumpster fire and is hurtling toward an inglorious conclusion due to his unethical conduct.

Not every legislator is corrupt. Far from it. But if you want to clean up politics in Missouri, you have to turn off the flow of money that is pouring into state government.

Likewise, influence peddling by lobbyists has become ingrained into the fabric of state government. It has become mainstream. It needs to be checked.

If the citizens of this state want to clean up this mess they need to take matters into their own hands. They can do that in November by approving these ballot initiatives.

 

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St. Louis Post-Dispatch Endorses Amendment 1: “Since lawmakers seem unable or unwilling to impose stricter ethical standards, it’s time for Missourians to do it for them.”

In the May 10 paper: 

If some Jefferson City lawmakers had their way, Missouri would change its nickname to the “Show-Me the Money State.” Despite multiple opportunities to tighten ethics laws and rein in their greediest colleagues, they’ve failed to act. A statewide ballot initiative will allow Missouri voters to do the job that legislators won’t.

If voters say yes to a proposed constitutional amendment destined for the November ballot, sweeping ethical reforms will become the law of the land. In a state that has among the loosest rules for ethical conduct, changes can’t come soon enough.

A bipartisan group called Clean Missouri has submitted more than 340,000 petition signatures calling for a slate of reforms. The collected signatures, far exceeding what’s required by law, still must be validated by Secretary of State Jay Ashcroft before the measure is officially placed on the ballot. The amendment would:

• Cap campaign contributions at $2,500 for state senators and $2,000 for state representatives;

• Place a $5 limit on the value of lobbyist gifts to lawmakers;

• Impose a two-year waiting period before former lawmakers and legislative employees can lobby current lawmakers;

• Establish a nonpartisan state demographer to help draw neutral legislative districts;

• Require that legislative records be open to the public.

These changes would help restore confidence in Missouri government and wash away the stink from abusive practices that have made state lawmakers the butt of ethics jokes. Voters elected Gov. Eric Greitens at least partly because of his promises to clean up state government. Instead, his all-out quest for “dark money” donations has turned him into the poster child of the show-me-the-money movement.

Candidates should earn votes the traditional way — by knocking on doors and meeting face-to-face with constituents, not by kowtowing to the special interest groups that help finance their campaigns. Lobbyists shouldn’t be able to buy influence with trips, drinks, dinners and gifts.

Voters deserve transparency. They have a right to know what is being done in their name, with their tax dollars.

It’s time to end the cozy system in which elective office becomes a steppingstone to a lobbying career. Former House Speaker Rod Jetton, R-Marble Hill, didn’t even wait. He became a paid political consultant while still in office. Legislators should be serving their constituents while in office, not maneuvering for prospective clients to maximize their future career options.

And then there is the loathsome redistricting process that snarls both political parties as they try to draw maps that protect incumbents and keep the party label on legislative districts. Clean Missouri’s plan is for both parties to be involved in choosing an independent expert to draw competitive, balanced maps. That’s the best way to ensure fair representation.

Since lawmakers seem unable or unwilling to impose stricter ethical standards, it’s time for Missourians to do it for them.

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