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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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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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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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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Post-Dispatch: Yes on 1

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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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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Without Reform, Lobbyist Gift Totals Keep Rising

The numbers are in, and 2017 was the worst year on record for lobbyist gifts. Last year, lobbyists reported giving $1,067,143.50 in gifts to Missouri legislators.

This means, the average total amount of gifts given by lobbyists since 2004 rises to $880,000. That’s almost a million dollars every year in free booze, expensive dinners, and fancy vacations.

But the worst part – we still don’t know who really took most of the gifts given due to a major loophole allowing lobbyists to report their gifts to ‘groups’ or ‘committees.’

But the worst part – we still don’t know who really took most of the gifts given due to a major loophole allowing lobbyists to report their gifts to ‘groups’ or ‘committees.’

But the worst part – we still don’t know who really took most of the gifts given due to a major loophole allowing lobbyists to report their gifts to ‘groups’ or ‘committees.’

We’re ready to create a government that works for voters, not special interest lobbyists and wealthy donors.


Are you?

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How to Create Fair and Competitive Elections

A recent article in WIRED magazine explains how simple math can be used to establish fair and competitive elections and how gerrymandering has helped engineer election results for incumbents for decades.

These unfair fights affect how we are governed and help majority-party incumbents coast to re-election term after term…Objective mathematical tools like the efficiency gap may be the only way to root out gerrymandering and keep our political battlefields in balance.

You don’t have to be a math major to know that the scales are tipped in Missouri (and have been for awhile) when it comes to our legislative districts. Having an impartial expert redraw district boundaries in Missouri will create a more level playing field for both parties and eliminate any unfair advantages one has over the other. The criteria will be clear and transparent—requiring open records of the data used to draw new maps—ensuring a fair process.

We think it’s time to make this happen. Voters deserve fair and competitive elections.

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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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