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16 December 2011

Kander: Ethics Reform Legislation Filed

This week, I filed sweeping ethics reform legislation [HB1080] that would ban lawmakers from accepting lobbyist gifts, reinstate campaign contribution limits, and close the political revolving door by prohibiting elected officials from lobbying for two years after their service. In all three of these major areas, current Missouri ethics laws are significantly more lenient than federal law.

It’s a sad day when the ethics laws in Washington D.C. are stricter than in the Show-Me state. Strengthening these laws is far from a partisan issue. Democrats and Republicans alike should be ashamed that Missouri operates in a political system that doesn’t even match the current ethical standards in our nation’s capital.

The St. Louis Post-Dispatch this morning echoed my call for ethics reform, pointing out that Missouri is the only state in the country where lawmakers can take both unlimited campaign contributions and unlimited gifts from lobbyists. In praising my legislation the Post said, “he correctly has identified the three big evils that lawmakers must address if they want to reduce the pernicious effects of special-interest donations on the political process.”

I have championed ethics legislation every year that I’ve served in Jefferson City. If passed, this bill would help instill greater faith in the Missouri legislature.

Here is a sampling of the reforms contained in the bill:
  • Banning all lobbyist gifts, up to and including a cup of coffee.
  • Closing the political revolving door by establishing a two-year ban on lobbying after elected officials leave the legislature.
  • Establishing campaign contribution limits, including $500 for House races, $1,000 for the Senate, and $2,000 for statewide elections.
  • Banning lawmakers from soliciting lobbying positions while still in the legislature.
  • Banning lawmakers from serving as political consultants.
Public service loses its true meaning when a system exists that allows elected officials to serve themselves at the expense of the general public. Every time an elected official accepts a gift from lobbyists, special interests gain influence and everyday citizens lose. The time has come for politicians to stop trying to find a way to make public service work for them and instead start working for all of us.

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