Judge orders Clean Missouri amendment removed from November ballot

  

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. — A Cole County judge has ordered that the constitutional amendment seeking to overhaul the state’s ethics laws be removed from the November ballot.

On Friday, Judge Daniel Green ruled that the Clean Missouri amendment violates the state’s constitutional prohibition against multiple subjects and amending multiple provisions. Backers of Amendment 1 said they plan to appeal the decision.

“We’ll be appealing immediately. The Secretary of State properly certified the measure so that voters may consider the measure, and voters will have their say on November 6,” said Chuck Hatfield, attorney for the Clean Missouri campaign. “We have always thought that this legal matter would be decided at the Appeals Court level. This is a speed bump, but the law is on our side, the people are on our side, and Amendment 1 will be passed in November to clean up Missouri politics.”

The measure is a proposed constitutional amendment that would impose gift limits for legislators, lower campaign contribution limits, change the length of time required before becoming lobbyists, and change the model for drawing districts.

Paul Ritter, a Republican voter, and Daniel Mehan, the head of Missouri Chamber of Commerce and Industry filed the lawsuit in August arguing that the ballot measure violated Missouri law on five counts including dealing with more than one subject, amending more than one article of the Missouri Constitution, and violating the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution.

Green sided with Ritter and Mehan on two counts, with the Secretary of State’s Office and the intervenors on two counts, and dismissed without prejudice count alleging violation of the first amendment. He ordered the measure be removed from the general election ballot.

“All matters included in the Proponents’ Petition do not relate to — and are not properly connected with — any readily identifiable and reasonably narrow central purpose,” Green said in his decision. “Instead, as explained below, the twenty or so substantive changes outlined in the Petition relate to at least two different and extremely broad purposes: (1) the organization of the General Assembly; and (2) ethics or campaign finance regulation aimed at avoiding misconduct by public officials in multiple branches and levels of government.”

The proposed amendment would also amend and repeal provisions in more than one article of the Missouri Constitution which is not permitted.

Green ordered that the Secretary of State rescind and withdraw the certification of sufficiency for Amendment 1 and issue a certificate of insufficiency for the proposed constitutional amendment.

Alisha Shurr is a reporter for the Missouri Times and Missouri Times Magazine. She joined the Missouri Times in January 2018 after working as a copy editor for her hometown newspaper in Southern Oregon. Alisha is a graduate of Kansas State University. Contact Alisha at alisha@themissouritimes.com.