JEFFERSON CITY | Gov. Jay Nixon called on lawmakers Friday to reinstate campaign finance and ethics rules that were struck down earlier this week by the Missouri Supreme Court.
“We started this week at one level of transparency and protection, we’re ending this week at a much worse level,” Nixon said. “The legislature needs to come back and put this on the front burner to get back at least to where we were.”
In a unanimous ruling Tuesday, the state Supreme Court struck down rules banning the laundering of donations through campaign committees, expanding the investigative powers for the Missouri Ethics Commission and a mandate that donations of $500 or more to be reported within 48 hours during the legislative session.
The substance of the law was not an issue for the court. It was struck down for procedural reasons, specifically because it was passed after being added to an unrelated bill on the last day of the 2010 session.
The House approved the legislation 153 to 5. The Senate passed it 32 to 1. Nixon pointed to these votes to conclude that it should be easy to pass the rules once again.
“People will search for excuses not to reinstate this law. Those excuses should be few and far between,” Nixon said. “This week has caused a lessening of the protection and openness in the political system of the state of Missouri that was agreed to overwhelmingly by the legislature.”
Nixon is also calling on lawmakers to reinstate campaign contribution limits that were approved by voters in 1994 and then revoked by a Republican-led legislature in 2007.
Additionally, Nixon would like to lawmakers pass a ban on legislators receiving payments from their colleagues for acting as political consultants.
“But I’ll work with them on whatever,” Nixon said. “The first step has to be putting the protections we had back into law. If we get other things with it, fine. “
Rep. Jason Kander, a Kansas City Democrat who has sponsored ethics-reform legislation for several years, said he agrees with Nixon that the priority should be reinstating the law struck down by the Supreme Court.
“But I think this is also an opportunity to go further," said Kander, who is running for secretary of state. "Republicans and Democrats should be ashamed that Missouri is the only state that allows lawmakers to accept both unlimited lobbyist gifts and unlimited campaign donations.”
Nixon plans to send a letter to every member of the General Assembly urging them to take action immediately.
All current Republican legislative leaders – Senate Majority Leader Tom Dempsey, Senate President Pro Tem Rob Mayer, House Majority Leader Tim Jones and House Speaker Steve Tilley – voted in favor of the ethics reform bill in 2010.