Campaign contribution amendment largely overturned in federal court


$2,600-donation limit remains

KANSAS CITY, Mo. – The Western District Court of Missouri overturned the one of popular ballot issue in the state Friday when it ruled the state needs to stop enforcing Article VIII of the Missouri Constitution, which went into effect because of the passage of Amendment 2 in November.

Amendment 2 limited campaign contributions to just $2,600 per candidate per election, banned contributions between candidate committees, and prevented corporations or labor committees from contributing to campaign committees that only campaign on ballot measures, among other campaign regulations.

Some of those provisions were overturned by Senior Judge Ortrie Smith, as he sided with the plaintiffs in the case, Free and Fair Election Fund and the Missouri Electric Cooperatives. The $2,600 limit will remain, but Smith struck down the part of the law which forbids committee-to-committee transfers.

However, to give time for an appeal to be filed, Smith stayed enforcement of the order for 45 days. An appeal would have to be filed to the 8th District U.S. Court of Appeals.

The amendment passed in November by nearly a 70-30 margin. Its easy passage seeming to indicate that the people of Missouri largely approved of campaign contribution limits, which was the major provision of the amendment.

Eddie Greim, a partner of the Graves Garrett law firm for the defense, celebrated the decision, calling AMendment 2 “deeply flawed.”

“The federal district court’s order provides an example of federal judiciary’s essential role in protecting First Amendment rights from infringement by states, even an unlawful state constitutional amendment,” Greim said. “But today’s judgment sends a clear message that a statewide vote cannot trump the freedom of speech.”

The “Graves” in Graves Garrett is Todd Graves, the Chairman of the Missouri Republican Party and a lawyer for the defense.

Supporters of the amendment, were quick to ask Attorney General Josh Hawley to appeal the decision. Stephen Webber, the chairman of the Missouri Democratic Party, attacked Graves for his role in the case.

“It’s no wonder the Missouri Republican Party’s Chairman was the chief lawyer fighting to reopen these dark money channels – today’s ruling will make it easier for Eric Greitens and Missouri’s Republican officeholders to continue relying on special interests and billionaires with a pay-to-play agenda to advance policies that benefit big corporations at the expense of working Missourians,” Webber said. “Attorney General Josh Hawley should honor the will of the voters and take immediate legal action to restore these campaign finance rules.”

The full case can be read below. This is a developing story and is subject to updates.