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Kander, McManus announce sweeping ethics reform proposal

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. — Calling Missouri’s campaign finance and ethics laws the “worst in the state,” Secretary of State Jason Kander — a Democrat and the state’s chief overseer of elections — announced today a massive overhaul of how money finds its way into the hands of elected official.

Kander’s office is working with fellow Democrat and House member Rep. Kevin McManus, D-Kansas City. McManus is sponsoring HB 1340, which establishes campaign contribution limits, restricts lawmakers from lobbying or consulting during or immediately following their term, and gives significant new muscle to the Missouri Ethics Commission.

Rep. Kevin McManus
Rep. Kevin McManus

McManus’ bill would establish contribution limits of $500 and $1,000 for House and Senate races in the state, and a limit of $2,600 for statewide offices.

“This is not a compromise,” Kander said. “This is a solution. There is plenty in here for politicians to dislike, but I don’t work for politicians. This is an issue that is only controversial in this building. Go around this state and ask any Missourian how they feel and I promise you they support these measures.”

Kander took an optimistic view of the legislation’s chances of making it to Gov. Jay Nixon’s desk despite the state opposition of some members of both parties, including House Speaker Tim Jones.

“I think [Jones] is entirely wrong,” Kander said. “If he or other lawmakers can’t get behind these reforms, I think they are wrong. This is a bipartisan effort and the last thing we are going to do is pass campaign finance and ethics reform in name only.

Other provisions in the bill include a three-year “cooling off” period before an elected official may become a lobbyist and a one-year restriction on political consulting. The bill also, for the first time, makes lying to a Missouri Ethics Commission investigator a crime, institutes whistleblower protections and would restrict transfers of funds between different committees.