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Democratic donor discusses views on contribution limits

KIRKSVILLE, Mo. — Barry Aycock, a political donor from southeast Missouri, said that while he agrees with his fellow Democrats on most every front, there is one issue where he differs: campaign contribution limits.

“All Democrats don’t believe in the exact same things,” he said. “I happen to agree with Republicans on campaign limits in that I don’t think there should be limits as long as there is transparency.”

A recent tweet from Aycock stirred some discussion about his thoughts on the issue of contribution limits, especially in light of a recent court case filed by Missouri’s top donor Rex Sinquefield and Travis Brown against Secretary of State Jason Kander over a ballot measure that looks to implement contribution limits, among other things.

But Aycock’s views are slightly different from Sinquefield, as is his donation record.

“I don’t believe money should be hidden,” he said. “If an individual wants to give $200,000 to something they believe in, they need to give it directly to them, not through a [political action committee]. It’s like money laundering.”

Aycock said he’s discussed his thoughts with Kander recently, and that “for the most part” they agree on everything in terms of ethics reform — like Aycock does with most Democrats — with the exception of limits.

“We agree that the revolving door needs to be slammed shut so representatives and senators can’t be a lobbyist for the next few years after they get out,” Aycock said. “We also need to ban lobbyist gifts. And, like I said, end money laundering.”

Aycock pointed out that in a way, it’s a matter of staying competitive with state Republicans. While he understands his Democrat colleague’s perspective on limitations, he pointed out that in the last two election cycles, Gov. Jay Nixon outraised his opponents.

But that statewide momentum stops at statewide candidates.

“It’s in the House and Senate that Democrats suffer,” he said. “No donors are kicking that part of the party money. When Democrats are fundraising, they get $25,000 to $40,000, but when Republicans have a fundraiser they get $500,000, and that’s just from a few people.”

Aycock said that for him, he is proud to have his company or himself give more than $5,000 when he can to a candidate he supports, something he has done frequently during the last few election cycles. He said he hopes other donors would be just as proud to publicly give to candidates, and eventually stop doing so through other means as well, such as a PAC.

“If you search my name [on the Missouri Ethics Commission website], you’ll see who all I’ve donated to,” he said. “If you search Rex Sinquefield’s name, you will see who all he donated to too, but that doesn’t count the money that went into PACs that went back to some candidates or causes.”