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Andy Cohen asks Missourians to reject Amendment 3

Andy Cohen’s got the 411 — on Missouri ballot measures.

Cohen, a St. Louis native and venerable Bravo television producer and talk show host, weighed in on Amendment 3 in a nearly two-minute video for the ACLU of Missouri. Before voters, the ballot measure seeks to make changes to the voter-approved Clean Missouri — and it looks like Cohen will be watching what happens live on this issue in November. 

“In 2018, you voted nearly 2-1 to support fair maps in Missouri and stop political insiders from drawing legislative districts so they wouldn’t have to listen to you, the voter,” Cohen said. “It was a huge bipartisan win.” 

SJR 38 — which appears on the Missouri ballot as Amendment 3 — has been a point of contention in Missouri ever since it passed out of the legislature earlier this year. It would tweak the ban on lobbyist gifts to legislators and lower Senate campaign contribution limits by $100 if approved. But it would also change, yet again, the state’s redistricting process. 

Approved by voters in 2018, Clean Missouri changed the redistricting process to require a new nonpartisan demographer to draw legislative maps for the General Assembly following the 2020 U.S. Census. Amendment 3, however, would place the duties in the hands of independent House and Senate commissioners — essentially reverting to what was done in the past. 

The “Real Housewives” franchise executive producer and “Watch What Happens Live” host called the plan “a radical new scheme to let lobbyists and political operatives draw maps to protect their favorite politicians.” 

“Amendment 3 would be a disaster for Missouri. It’s on us to stop them from making Missouri the most gerrymandered state in the nation,” Cohen said.  

The ballot language was the subject of court battles this year as well. In August, Cole County Circuit Court Judge Patricia S. Joyce called the General Assembly’s drafted language “misleading, unfair, and insufficient.” 

The original summary as drafted by the General Assembly read: 

Shall the Missouri Constitution be amended to:

    • Ban all lobbyist gifts to legislators and their employees; 
    • Reduce legislative campaign contribution limits; and 
    • Create citizen-led independent bipartisan commissions to draw state legislative districts based on one person, one vote, minority voter protection, compactness, competitiveness, fairness and other criteria? 

The official ballot language posed to voters is:

Shall the Missouri Constitution be amended to: 

    • Ban gifts from paid lobbyists to legislators and their employees;
    • Reduce legislative campaign contribution limits;
    • Change the redistricting process voters approved in 2018 by: (i) transferring responsibility for drawing state legislative districts from the Nonpartisan State Demographer to Governor-appointed bipartisan commissions; (ii) modifying and reordering the redistricting criteria.

At least two Missouri counties needed to reissue ballots to voters after they were originally sent with incorrect language pertaining to Amendment 3. About 1,700 incorrect ballots were sent out to voters in Buchanan County. 

“Zero people think that a $5 lobbyist gift change or a $100 contribution limit change are reform,” Sean Soendker Nicholson, campaign director for the No on Amendment 3 campaign, told The Missouri Times. “Voters can see through the smokescreen and recognize Amendment 3 for what it is — a radical plan to let lobbyists draw incumbent districts in a redistricting system unlike Missouri — or America — has ever seen.” 

Republicans have argued the original Clean Missouri was too broad and voters weren’t quite familiar with everything included in the amendment. Lawmakers said they’ve heard from constituents who wanted ethics reform but not the sweeping changes to redistricting. 

“This would give the voters another opportunity to weigh in on this monumental change that could have ramifications for years, if not generations,” state Sen. Dan Hegeman, the sponsor, said.