JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. — Billboards highlighting gifts lobbyists that have given to Missouri lawmakers have been put up along three major highways as part of an effort to advocate for a constitutional amendment overhauling state ethics laws.
Represent Missouri, the state chapter of RepresentUs, launched the campaign to support Amendment 1, the initiative petition put forth by Clean Missouri, on the November ballot.
The billboards are along Highways 50, 54, and 63 which sayings such as “Free trip to SeaWorld! Actual gift from a lobbyist to a Missouri politician,” “Free trip to the Indy 500! Actual gift from a lobbyist to a Missouri politician,” and “$1 Million. That’s how much lobbyists gave Missouri politicians last year.”
“We’re making the point that the lobbyist gifts to politicians have gotten out of hand,” said Steve Davey, a volunteer with Represent Missouri. “The gifts are clear examples of the culture of excess within a corrupt system. The timing was right to call this out after we saw a lawsuit by lobbyists attempting to remove this anti-corruption measure from the November ballot.”
RepresentUs is a nonpartisan group that advocates for anti-corruption measures. The group is supporting ballot questions in states across the country — Michigan, Colorado, Utah, New Mexico, Michigan, Nevada, and Massachusetts — that cover topics including gerrymandering, ethics, automatic voter registration, and more.
The Clean Missouri Amendment the group is supporting in Missouri 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.
The measure has gotten blowback from some the Missouri Chamber of Commerce and some Republicans who oppose the portion of the measure that alters the redistricting method. According to opponents, the proposed redistricting method would allow for gerrymandering and allow for non-continuous districts.
Alisha Shurr was a reporter for The Missouri Times and The 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.