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31 August 2010

Kander: New ethics reforms become law

This past Saturday, for the first time in nearly twenty years and after a tough fight in 2010, significant changes in Missouri law regarding ethics and campaign finance went into effect. As an original author of several major provisions in the new law [SB844], Saturday was a proud day for me.

As of this past Saturday, the following positive changes are in place:
  • It is now against the law to launder money from one Political Action Committee (PAC) to another for the purpose of concealing the donor. In fact, PACs are now prohibited from receiving donations from other PACs.
  • The Missouri Ethics Commission (MEC) now has substantially expanded authority to investigate the actions of elected officials, lobbyists, political candidates, and other major players in state politics.
  • Just as it is against federal law to obstruct an investigation by the Federal Election Commission (FEC), it is finally against state law to obstruct an investigation by the MEC (Missouri's version of the FEC). Previously, there existed no penalty for lying to an MEC investigator.
  • ALL political contributions of more than $25 will be searchable online at the MEC website. In the past, some committees were not required to file electronically. This loophole enabled those seeking to launder and hide funds to do so in a way that was invisible in the public database of campaign contributors.
These and other aspects of the new law are explained in a video tutorial created by the Missouri Ethics Commission.

While I'm proud of my work to author and pass these reforms, I'm far from satisfied. We still must restore campaign contribution limits, close the revolving door that allows sitting legislators to accept jobs as lobbyists, and prohibit elected officials from paying one another as "political consultants."

With these new laws acting as a solid foundation for progress, I will continue the fight for comprehensive ethics reform in Missouri.

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