The one thing Republicans and Democrats agree on in Missouri

The Clean Missouri coalition is showing that even in 2018, conservatives and progressives can come together to ensure that voters’ voices are heard in Jefferson City. A growing number of Republicans, Democrats, and independents have publicly endorsed the full package of desperately-needed reforms in the Clean Missouri initiative.

Examples of public support for Clean Missouri include:

  • Sen. Rob Schaaf (R-St. Joseph): “Clean Missouri would eliminate almost all lobbyist gifts in the General Assembly, banning any single gift worth more than $5. … [T]here’s no such thing as a free lunch, and that’s why lobbyists give the gifts: they know they’ll get something in return.”
  • Rev. Starsky D. Wilson of St. Louis, President & CEO of the Deaconess Foundation and Pastor of Saint John’s Church: “The Clean Missouri amendment will level the playing field for the citizens who want to run for office because they understand the struggles of working families — and are tired of politicians ignoring them.”
  • Former Sen. Jim Lembke (R-Lemay): “Clean Missouri reforms our broken redistricting process, which is driven by insiders in both parties to protect powerful incumbents. Additionally, many conservative colleagues rightly criticize that the process often falls to judges who draw maps in secret. The Clean Missouri amendment sets out a fair process in which both parties would have a say in picking an independent expert, who then would draw fair, competitive maps according to clear, transparent criteria. Maps would then be reviewed by a citizen commission to ensure neither political party is given an unfair advantage, resulting in a plan that is representative of voters’ preferences. Districts would still be required to be compact and follow existing city or county lines where possible.”
  • Pastor Cassandra Gould, Executive Director of Missouri Faith Voices: “Lobbyists and a small group of big donors have too much control over Missouri state government. But it doesn’t have to be this way. We’re going to make our state government more transparent, limit the power of big money in our legislature, and make sure we can hold legislators accountable when they fail to act in the public’s interest.”
  • Rhonda Perry, a grain and livestock farmer from Howard County, and the Program Director for the Missouri Rural Crisis Center: “Big money and powerful lobbyists drive the agenda at the Capitol, and political insiders draw the districts to protect their own jobs — not ours. We need to level the playing field for ordinary citizens, and that’s why I’m excited to support Clean Missouri.”
  • Former Senator and current Councilmember Bob Johnson (R-Lee’s Summit): “The Clean Missouri amendment will make sure legislators focus on important priorities, not what special interests and extremists want. Voters should be able to hold politicians accountable in fair and competitive general elections. That’s why I was an early supporter of the effort, and will be voting yes on November 6.”
  • Mayor Clifford Harvey of Weston, MO: “I signed the Clean Missouri Initiative petition, and will be voting for the desperately-needed amendment in November. … I’m a conservative Republican, but good government is something we should all be able to agree on. No matter which party you support, your elected officials should be working for you, for my own constituents, and for everyday Missourians.”
  • Former St. Louis Republican Central Committee Member John Saxton: “I gathered signatures for Clean Missouri, which would decrease the corrosive influence of special interest lobbyists and money, and make Republican votes like mine matter in otherwise safe Democratic districts. In light of the legislature’s lack of action to pass meaningful ethics laws, this is one major reform that fellow conservatives can join me in supporting.”
  • National conservative reform expert Trevor Potter, appointed to the Federal Election Commission by President George H.W. Bush, and current president of the nonpartisan Campaign Legal Center: “Clean Missouri addresses two of the major problems facing our democracy: partisan gerrymandering and the influence of special interests over elected officials… These common sense solutions would help ensure Missouri’s government reflects the will of its citizens.”

The Clean Missouri amendment will increase integrity, transparency and accountability in the Missouri General Assembly. It will:

  • lower campaign contribution limits for state legislative candidates
  • eliminate almost all lobbyist gifts in the General Assembly
  • require politicians to wait two years before becoming lobbyists
  • require that legislative records be open to the public
  • ensure that neither political party is given an unfair advantage when new maps are drawn after the next census, by asking a nonpartisan expert to draw fair legislative district maps, which would then be reviewed by a citizen commission

 

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Jeff City politicians broke their promise to ban lobbyist gifts. Again.

The Missouri General Assembly has adjourned without taking any action to end Jefferson City’s obscene lobbyist gift culture.

Again.

Missourians are done waiting for politicians and lobbyists in Jefferson City to clean up their act.

Since 2004, lobbyists have given an average of $885,020 worth of free meals, drinks, tickets and other gifts to members of the General Assembly, their staff members, and their family members. Just last year, lobbyists reported a whopping $1,070,653 in gifts to the General Assembly.

 

To make matters worse, 68% of the gifts reported to the Missouri Ethics Commission since 2004 have been listed as going to legislative groups, meaning Missourians have no idea who actually accepted $8,660,463 worth of gifts in the past 15 years.

The Clean Missouri initiative will eliminate almost all lobbyist gifts in the General Assembly by banning any single gift worth more than $5.

With its broad coalition of support from across the state, the Clean Missouri coalition submitted 346,956 signatures to the Secretary of State’s office on May 3, more than enough to qualify the initiative petition for the November 2018 ballot.

A growing number of Republicans, Democrats, and independents have publicly endorsed the full package of desperately-needed reforms in the Clean Missouri initiative to increase integrity, transparency and accountability in the Missouri General Assembly.

Signatures will now be counted and verified by local election authorities, and then the Clean Missouri amendment will be certified for the November 6, 2018 ballot.

Year House Senate Group Total
2004 $124,169.18 $27,621.73 $822,777.41 $974,568.32
2005 $121,438.86 $46,188.79 $823,886.63 $991,514.28
2006 $130,518.74 $51,622.09 $823,909.48 $1,006,050.31
2007 $238,936.73 $82,006.16 $581,903.88 $902,846.77
2008 $214,720.10 $86,581.75 $621,931.94 $923,233.79
2009 $265,010.19 $114,100.03 $536,343.41 $915,453.63
2010 $243,514.30 $100,886.58 $508,716.20 $853,117.08
2011 $232,563.80 $117,482.22 $597,990.53 $948,036.55
2012 $223,114.15 $104,293.33 $540,691.04 $868,098.52
2013 $229,757.82 $113,090.48 $612,147.69 $954,995.99
2014 $188,888.63 $73,856.28 $587,820.60 $850,565.51
2015 $204,723.28 $76,725.73 $327,747.87 $609,196.88
2016 $175,194.18 $62,508.87 $284,252.01 $521,955.06
2017 $140,625.92 $63,347.24 $866,680.06 $1,070,653.22
2018 (Jan-Mar) $39,950.93 $20,217.17 $123,664.58 $183,832.68
Grand Total $2,773,126.81 $1,140,528.45 $8,660,463.33 $12,574,118.59
Average $195,226.85 $80,022.23 $609,771.34 $885,020.42
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Clean Missouri signature turn-in makes major news all over TV, radio, and print

TV, radio, and newspaper outlets all over our state covered the Clean Missouri coalition’s historic signature turn-in of 346,956 signatures on Thursday, May 3 to increase integrity, transparency, and accountability in government.

Here are some of the highlights. Click the outlet name to see the full story.

Kansas City Star
Missouri lawmakers won’t clean up government corruption. Voters should do it for them
By The Kansas City Star Editorial Board
May 3, 2018

The vote can’t come soon enough. As recent events have shown, Missouri is one of the most unethical states in the union. And lawmakers have shown little willingness to address the problem. …

These reforms are essential. The revolving door between the floors of the General Assembly and lobbying jobs turns constantly. …

Opposition to the Clean Missouri reforms is already gathering. This should not be a surprise. In a state where Eric Greitens still serves as governor, resistance to ethical government is predictable. …

Voters, not lawmakers, need to wash the mud from Missouri government. They’ll almost certainly get the chance this year.

St. Louis Post-Dispatch
Messenger: Thursday was spring cleaning day in Missouri’s capital city
Tony Messenger – May 4, 2018

Republican Joe Ortwerth of St. Peters and Democrat Doug Harpool of Springfield, … in 1991, after Ashcroft’s measure failed to make the ballot, pushed for the law that ultimately created the Missouri Ethics Commission.

It wasn’t strong enough, and that’s why Clean Missouri is back at it today, with a proposal supported by liberals and conservatives alike.

One of those conservatives, former state Sen. Jim Lembke, R-Lemay, offered a bit of a mea culpa the other day. In a column in the Post-Dispatch that supported the Clean Missouri effort, Lembke, who was known for taking lobbyists’ gifts during his time in the Legislature, wrote this:

“I saw things go off the rails in 2017, with lobbyist gifts reaching an all-time high: over $1 million worth,” wrote Lembke, currently a legislative aide to Schaaf. “Looking back, if I got the opportunity to serve again, I’d do it differently, and it’s time for Clean Missouri to reform the system once and for all.” …

Voters will get their chance in November.

KMOV (CBS) – St. Louis, MO
CBS This Morning

Today a group of volunteers will be pushing in Jefferson City pushing for stricter limits on lawmakers. … It would lower campaign contribution limits, require politician to wait two years to becoming lobbyists, and require that legislative records be open to the public. The group is hoping to get the amendment on the November ballot.

Columbia Missourian
Ballot petition supports open records and limits on lobbying, donations
May 3, 2018

State Sen. Rob Schaaf, R-St. Joseph, addressed the ballot petition from the Senate floor Thursday.

Schaaf has been a vocal advocate of lobbying reform.

“This body had an opportunity to address the issue and didn’t do it,” Schaaf said. “People in Missouri are fed up with this.” …

The Rev. Cassandra Gould, pastor at Quinn Chapel A.M.E. Church in Jefferson City and executive director of Missouri Faith Voices, said Thursday that lobbyists, large donors and small groups of political insiders have too much influence in the Capitol.

“When I think of what goes on in Jefferson City, I’m reminded of the prophet Amos,” Gould said. “(Amos) said, ‘For I know your crimes are many, and your sins are innumerable. They oppress the righteous, take bribes, and deprive the poor of justice at the city gates.’”

She said the people of Missouri are united to end “systemic corruption” in the Missouri legislature.

Khadijah Wilson, a leader with the Organization for Black Struggle, said she believes the amendment will make it possible for more people to run for office.

“Too often, the only people running for political offices are the rich or the well-connected, or the people who cave to special interests,” Wilson said. “This amendment levels the playing field.”

John Saxton, a St. Louis Republican who ran twice for the Missouri House of Representatives, advocated for the state demographer position that the ballot measure would establish. Under the proposal, the demographer would be chosen by the Senate majority and minority leaders from a list of at least three candidates offered by the state auditor.

“Year after year, insiders draw lines to protect and reelect powerful incumbents, whether or not they represent the public interest,” Saxton said. “Most districts in our state are not competitive.” …

Callaway County farmer Jeff Jones said he talks to his legislators about agricultural policy.

“But the legislative leadership takes millions of dollars in big-money donations,” said Jones, who is a leader with the Missouri Rural Crisis Center. “They have not been hearing my voice.”

Missouri Times
Clean Missouri submits 346K signatures for initiative petition dealing with ethical issues in legislature
By Alisha Shurr – MAY 3, 2018

“Lobbyists and a small group of big donors have too much control over Missouri state government,” said Rev. Cassandra Gould of Jefferson City. “But it doesn’t have to be this way. We’re going to make our state government more transparent, limit the power of big money in our legislature, and make sure we can hold legislators accountable when they fail to act in the public’s interest.”

“We’re not waiting on the politicians and lobbyists to fix themselves,” said Jeff Jones, a [fourth]-generation farmer in Callaway County. “We can all see how big money drives the agenda in Jefferson City, and we’ve had enough.”

KMOX-AM (Radio) – St. Louis, MO
News at 5
5/3/2018 5:08 PM

Khadijah Wilson from Saint Louis is a leader with the Organization for Black Struggle. “This amendment levels the playing field, making it easier for citizens to run for office. That is good for Missouri’s democracy, and we need more regular people looking out for us.”

KOMU (NBC) – Columbia, MO
KOMU News at Five
5/3/2018 5:05 PM

Martin Tennant from Kansas City: “I really feel as though I’ve been a small part of a really historic change in Missouri, and a change for the better. I’m really looking forward to seeing seeing the positive effects this initiative has, on the way Missouri is run.”

Fulton Sun & Jefferson City News Tribune
Clean Missouri petitioners turn in about 347,000 signatures
May 4, 2018 by Joe Gamm

Fulton Sun coverage of turn-in featuring Jeff Jones

Rev. Cassandra Gould … said the activities that occur in Jefferson City remind her of the words of the prophet Amos, who said: “For I know your crimes are many and your sins are innumerable. They oppress the righteous, take bribes and deprive the poor of justice at the city gates.”

Among speakers was Jeff Jones, a farmer from Callaway County who said he has been discussing agriculture policy with legislative leaders but they have not listened. Legislative leaders take millions of dollars from big agriculture and don’t hear his voice, he said.

Elizabeth Davidson, of St. Louis County, said she wants legislators to focus on solutions to everyday Missourians’ concerns, such as health care. Instead, she said, they cater to lobbyists who push extreme agendas, some of whom gave more than a million dollars in gifts to legislators last year.

“No matter which party you support, that isn’t right,” Davidson said. …

John Bohney, of St. Louis, gathered more than 1,600 signatures for the petition. He said the initiative is a chance to increase integrity in government.

“Together, we can take back power from special interests and give it to the people,” Bohney said.

KOMU (NBC) – Columbia, MO
KOMU News at Six

Laura Umphenour from Springfield: “We will be excited about voting again, and we will be excited about being a part of our government, and how we are going to direct missouri in the future – how the people are gonna direct Missouri.”


KRCG (CBS) – Columbia, MO
KRCG 13 Live at 6 PM

A group that wants to ban a lobbyist gifts to Missouri lawmakers has turned in nearly 347,000 signatures to get a question on November’s ballot that would let voters decide the issue. The ballot initiative by Clean Missouri would make it subject to the states open records law, lower limits on campaign contributions, and change ow legislative districts are drawn.


KQFX (FOX) – Columbia, MO
ABC17 News at 9 on Fox 22

A group that wants to ban lobbyists gifts turned in thousands of signatures today to get a question on November’s ballot. The initiative, submitted by the organization Clean Missouri, would also make state lawmakers’ records open to Missouri’s open records law and it would lower campaign contributions. Right now, there are no limits on lobbyists gifts and lawmakers are exempt from the open records law.


WGEM (NBC) – Quincy, IL
WGEM News Today

There’s a push to make big changes to politics in Jefferson City. Yesterday a group called Clean Missouri submitted signatures to get a question that would ban most lobbyist gifts to lawmakers on the November ballot, letting voters decide. The ballot initiative would also make lawmakers’ records subject to the state’s open records law, lower limits on campaign contributions, and change how legislative districts are drawn.

KTTN – Trenton, MO
Missouri voters to decide on initiative targeting corruption in government

Rev. Cassandra Gould said there is agreement that political insiders, big donors, and lobbyists wield too much influence in state government. So her group is fighting to take back control and even the playing field for all Missourians.

“I would say that there is overwhelming – on both sides of the aisle – there is an overwhelming, unified response to being able to do this,” she said.

The amendment also would require legislative records be open to the public to boost transparency. Signatures were collected from all of Missouri’s 114 counties.

FOX2NOW St. Louis via Associated Press
Signatures submitted to ban lobbyist gifts, cap donations
May 3, 2018

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. – A group that wants to ban lobbyist gifts to Missouri lawmakers has turned in signatures to get a question on November’s ballot that would let voters decide the issue. …

Currently, there are no limits on lobbyist gifts, although they must be reported, and lawmakers are exempt from the open records law.

Southeast Missourian via Associated Press
News Roundup
May 4, 2018

The ballot initiative, submitted Thursday by an organization called Clean Missouri, would also make lawmakers’ records subject to the state’s open records law, lower limits on campaign contributions and change how legislative districts are drawn. It would ban lobbyist gifts over $5.

KCTV (CBS) – Kansas City
News at 4
May 4, 2018

In Missouri, a group that wants to ban most lobbyist gifts to lawmakers has turned in signatures to get a question on November’s ballot. The ballot initiative is by an organization called Clean Missouri. It would also make lawmakers’ records subject to the state’s open records law, lower limits on campaign contributions and change how legislative districts are drawn.

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We. Did. It. Clean Missouri just submitted 346,956 signatures!

On Thursday, May 3, the Clean Missouri coalition submitted 346,956 signatures to the Secretary of State’s office in Jefferson City, more than enough to qualify the initiative petition for the November 2018 ballot! The constitutional amendment will increase integrity, transparency and accountability in state government.

Volunteers who have been part of the signature gathering effort gathered for the submission of more than 200 boxes of petitions with signatures, gathered by over 1600 volunteers and canvassers, from all 115 counties in Missouri.

This would not have been possible without the tireless volunteers, dedicated coalition members, and 24,449 donations from supporters!

Watch and share the video:

The Clean Missouri amendment will increase integrity, transparency and accountability in our state legislature. It will:

  • lower campaign contribution limits for state legislative candidates
  • eliminate almost all lobbyist gifts in the General Assembly
  • require politicians to wait two years before becoming lobbyists
  • require that legislative records be open to the public
  • ensure that neither political party is given an unfair advantage when new maps are drawn after the next census, by asking a nonpartisan expert to draw fair state legislative district maps, which would then be reviewed by a citizen commission

“Lobbyists and a small group of big donors have too much control over Missouri state government,” said Rev. Cassandra Gould of Jefferson City. “But it doesn’t have to be this way. We’re going to make our state government more transparent, limit the power of big money in our legislature, and make sure we can hold legislators accountable when they fail to act in the public’s interest.”

“Lobbyists reported giving more than $1 million in gifts to legislators of both parties last year, and almost $900,000 a year on average. That’s nuts!” said Laura Umphenour of Springfield. “No matter what party you believe in, this isn’t right.”

“We’re not waiting on the politicians and lobbyists to fix themselves,” said Jeff Jones, a fourth-generation farmer in Callaway County. “We can all see how big money drives the agenda in Jefferson City, and we’ve had enough.”

“We need a state government that is open and accountable one that puts people ahead of lobbyists, wealthy donors or partisan politics,” said Elizabeth Davidson of St. Louis County.

“We’ve got a bipartisan problem in Jefferson City, and Clean Missouri is a bipartisan solution,” said Martin Tennant of Kansas City. “I’m grateful we get to vote for it and pass it this November.”

“Year after year, political appointees draw district lines to help re-elect party insiders, even if they haven’t represented the best interests of their constituents,” said John Saxton of St. Louis, a former member of the St. Louis City Republican Central Committee. “Voters should be picking politicians, but it’s upside down right now: political insiders are picking their voters. This amendment will require that maps be crafted with clear, transparent criteria to ensure fair and competitive districts, and that a nonpartisan expert is part of the process. That’s a big reason I gathered signatures for Clean Missouri.”

“When we get big money out of state politics, we force candidates to earn our votes, debate the issues, and represent us — their constituents,” explained Khadijah Wilson of St. Louis. “Too often, the only people running for political office are the rich or well connected, or people who cave to special interests once they are elected. This amendment levels the playing field, making it easier for citizens to run for office. That is good for Missouri’s democracy, and we need more regular people looking out for us.”

“The Clean Missouri amendment will make sure legislators focus on important priorities, not what special interests and extremists want,” said former Republican state senator and current Lee’s Summit Councilmember Bob Johnson. “Voters should be able to hold politicians accountable in fair and competitive general elections. That’s why I was an early supporter of the effort, and will be voting yes on November 6.”

Signatures will now be counted and verified by local election authorities, and then the Clean Missouri amendment will be certified for the November 6, 2018 ballot.

Now it’s time to get the word out and win! To get help increase integrity, transparency, and accountability in government, visit http://www.cleanmissouri.org/volunteer.

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In the News: What They’re Saying About Clean Missouri

The Clean Missouri initiative continues to gain momentum and earn the support of Missourians who are ready to give everyday people a bigger voice in our state government.

The strong reforms to our General Assembly have earned broad, bipartisan support from thousands of Missourians who have helped collect signatures to make sure we’re on the November ballot.

Here’s a look at what people are saying:

JOSEPH NEWS-PRESS: CLEAN MISSOURI BALLOT PROPOSAL PUTS MISSOURIANS FIRST IN JEFF CITY

Massive sums of money from lobbyists and wealthy campaign contributors have pushed political influence out of constituents’ hands and into those of special interests, according to a reform group proposing amendments to the Missouri Constitution it says will return rightful power to voters.

KQTV: CLEAN MISSOURI INITIATIVE AIMS TO STOP “CORRUPTION” IN STATE GOVERNMENT

Two local lawmakers were in St. Joseph on Thursday pushing for an initiative that would, if passed, work to ‘clean up’ Jefferson City politics.

LETTER IN THE ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH: ETHICS COMMISSION SCANDAL SHOWS OUR FREEDOM IS UNDER ATTACK

This is why I voted for Ron Paul 10 years ago, this is why I volunteer for Represent St. Louis, and this is why I took Sen. Schaaf’s lead and gathered signatures this year for Clean Missouri, a ballot initiative with bipartisan support to reform ethics in the Legislature.

Help us continue our momentum!

Sign up to volunteer–host a house party, submit a letter to the editor, talk to voters, or host us at your local club or place of worship–to help make Clean Missouri a reality.


SIGN UP HERE

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Without Reform, Lobbyist Gift Totals Keep Rising

The numbers are in, and 2017 was the worst year on record for lobbyist gifts. Last year, lobbyists reported giving $1,067,143.50 in gifts to Missouri legislators.

This means, the average total amount of gifts given by lobbyists since 2004 rises to $880,000. That’s almost a million dollars every year in free booze, expensive dinners, and fancy vacations.

But the worst part – we still don’t know who really took most of the gifts given due to a major loophole allowing lobbyists to report their gifts to ‘groups’ or ‘committees.’

But the worst part – we still don’t know who really took most of the gifts given due to a major loophole allowing lobbyists to report their gifts to ‘groups’ or ‘committees.’

But the worst part – we still don’t know who really took most of the gifts given due to a major loophole allowing lobbyists to report their gifts to ‘groups’ or ‘committees.’

We’re ready to create a government that works for voters, not special interest lobbyists and wealthy donors.


Are you?

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My motivation

We caught up with Lyn, a volunteer collecting signatures with Missouri Jobs with Justice Voter Action. Read more below about why she’s involved in the Clean Missouri campaign.

Q: What drew you to the Clean Missouri campaign?

A: You know, I believe that campaign finance reform is absolutely necessary for restoring democracy in our state.

Q: How will the Clean Missouri initiative change the political landscape in our state?

A: My hope is the state legislature will be more responsive to the voters and act in their best interest instead of their largest campaign contributors.

Q: What’s the best thing about volunteering with Clean Missouri?

A: I’ve really been surprised by how enthusiastic most people are about signing the petition. So many folks thank us for the work we’re doing once they’ve signed. It really motivates me to keep volunteering and gathering signatures!

Q: Is there anything else you want to share about your experience?

A: I enjoy meeting the other volunteers! We all come from different walks of life and have different reasons to be a part of this campaign. It shows how important the Clean Missouri initiative is and why it’s so necessary for Missouri.

Now, it’s your turn.

Help us get big money out of Missouri politics — sign up to volunteer and join the Clean Missouri team today.

Here are the facts – The Clean Missouri amendment will:

  • lower campaign contribution limits for state legislative candidates
  • eliminate almost all lobbyist gifts
  • require politicians wait two years before becoming lobbyists
  • require that legislative records be open to the public
  • ensure that neither political party is given an unfair advantage when new maps are drawn after the next census, by asking a nonpartisan expert to draw fair legislative district maps, which would then be reviewed by a citizen commission
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Why I’m in This Fight

The Clean Missouri initiative seeks to increase integrity, accountability, and transparency in Missouri government. Lobbyist influence and gifts are a real problem with records showing that since 2004, there has been an average of $872,000 per year in lobbyist gift giving in Missouri.

All these gifts mean legislators are putting special interests and wealthy donors ahead of every day people.

This is not right. And Clean MIssouri is here to give power back to the people.

Here’s what a few folks have to say about why they’re a part of the Clean Missouri initiative:

“It’s time for everyone to have a say in who gets elected, instead of just big money donors.” – Cathy, Springfield

“This isn’t the way our government is supposed to work.” – Richard, St. Louis

“I don’t have $1,000,000, but I still want my legislators to listen to the issues that are important to me.” – Andy, St. Louis

“The opportunity to be directly involved in the democratic process is amazing.” – Erin, Springfield

“I’m tired of money driving our government, it should be the people.” – Libby, Kansas City

“I want a representative government.” – Sarah, Kansas City

“There’s a lot of money, and we need to put a stop to that.” – Victoria, Springfield

Tell us why you’re a part of the Clean Missouri initiative.

 

Share Your Story
 

Here are the facts – The Clean Missouri amendment will:

Lower campaign contribution limits for state legislative candidates
Eliminate almost all lobbyist gifts
Require politicians wait two years before becoming lobbyists
Require that legislative records be open to the public
Ensure that neither political party is given an unfair advantage when new maps are drawn after the next census, by asking a nonpartisan expert to draw fair legislative district maps, which would then be reviewed by a citizen commission

READ MORE

GOP Sen. Rob Schaaf: “I will be doing all I can to support Clean Missouri”

This op-ed originally appeared in the Kansas City Star on November 3, 2017:

A Clean Missouri is a Free Missouri
By Rob Schaaf

Liberty. This is the core of what I, as a conservative, believe in and strive to defend. Our liberty has been hard-won, paid for with the blood of our forebears, and it can so easily slip away. We must defend it, continually holding the line against those who would undermine it.

Today, we face a crisis of liberty, with many of our liberties being eroded — our freedom of speech, our freedom to maintain our privacy, our freedom from excessive government intervention in our lives. But what should worry us most is erosion of the freedom which underpins all others: the freedom of self-government. For if we lose the freedom to govern ourselves — if the political system itself becomes corrupted and responds less and less to the will of the people — then all our other liberties will be vulnerable, and the power of the state will be abused.

What I have seen, in 15 years as a member of the General Assembly, is increasing corruption in our state government, and increasing detachment from the will of the people. More and more, lobbyists and special interests get their way. They buy results with gifts and donations, but, ultimately, it is Missourians who pay the price, with healthcare costs spiraling out of control, taxpayer dollars wasted on corporate welfare, and powerful interests from out-of-state increasingly determining how Missourians are governed.

The legislature could pass reforms that would fix this, but they won’t. Legislators have had many opportunities, but most lawmakers don’t want to change the political game when they are winning it. So it’s up to the citizens to set things right, and there now is an historic opportunity to do so. It’s called Clean Missouri.

Clean Missouri is a ballot initiative supported by reformers from across the political spectrum. We are currently gathering signatures to place it on the ballot in November 2018. If passed, this constitutional amendment would solve many of the problems corrupting our state government.

For example, Clean Missouri would eliminate almost all lobbyist gifts in the General Assembly, banning any single gift worth more than $5. Members of the General Assembly, together with their staff and families, have already accepted over $1 million this year in gifts from lobbyists. Most lawmakers deny that these gifts affect them — the free meals, the free drinks, the free vacations. But there’s no such thing as a free lunch, and that’s why lobbyists give the gifts: they know they’ll get something in return.

Also, Clean Missouri would require legislators and their staff to wait two years before becoming lobbyists after they leave the Capitol. That way, the people making our laws would no longer be looking to lobbyists as potential employers. To understand why this is important, consider this quote from the infamous ex-lobbyist Jack Abramoff: “When we would become friendly with an office and they were important to us, and the chief of staff was a competent person, I would say or my staff would say to him or her at some point, ‘You know, when you’re done working on the Hill, we’d very much like you to consider coming to work for us.’ Now the moment I said that to them or any of our staff said that to ’em, that was it. We owned them. And what does that mean? Every request from our office, every request of our clients, everything that we want, they’re gonna do. And not only that, they’re gonna think of things we can’t think of to do.”

Clean Missouri would furthermore ensure that legislative district maps are drawn fairly after each census, rather than being drawn in such a way as to protect incumbents or to unjustly favor one party over the other. In other words, it would prohibit gerrymandering — what President Ronald Reagan called a “national scandal” and an “anti-democratic and un-American practice.” To do so, it would enforce an objective standard endorsed by numerous esteemed conservatives, among them Sens. John Danforth and Bob Dole and Govs. Arnold Schwarzenegger and John Kasich.

Clean Missouri contains other reforms as well. It would lower the contribution limits for legislative candidates. It would apply the Missouri Sunshine Law to legislative records and legislative meetings. And it would prohibit political fundraising on state property — for example, in the Missouri Capitol, where lawmakers should be focused on making laws, not asking lobbyists for money.

Clean Missouri is an expertly-drafted and well-vetted proposal. Among those who have vetted Clean Missouri are experts at the Campaign Legal Center, a nonpartisan organization run by Trevor Potter, former chairman of the Federal Election Commission. He was appointed to that post by President George H.W. Bush and has been described by the American Bar Association Journal as “hands-down one of the top lawyers in the country on the delicate intersection of politics, law and money.” On the subject of Clean Missouri and his organization’s support for the measure, he has written, “These common sense solutions would help ensure Missouri’s government reflects the will of its citizens.”

As Reagan once said in a speech commemorating the anniversary of D-Day: “Democracy is worth dying for, because it’s the most deeply honorable form of government ever devised by man.” Many have died for our democracy, and the least we can do to honor that is to preserve the democracy we have inherited. Right now, in Missouri, that means making sure Clean Missouri passes. We need to collect signatures to get it on the ballot. We need to defend against the misinformation campaign that will likely be waged against it. And we need to get out the vote next fall. During this final year I have in the General Assembly, I will be doing all I can to support Clean Missouri, and I hope you will consider joining me. You can learn more and sign up to help at cleanmissouri.org.

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Ethics Commission: Lobbyist Gifts in Missouri Now Exceed $1,000,000 for 2017

Lobbyist gift reports for January to August 2017 show that members of the Missouri General Assembly, their family members and their staff members now total  $1,001,249.88 for the year — with five months still to go.

The 2017 total for reported gifts is now the second-highest on record since 2004, the first year for which digital gift records are available from the Missouri Ethics Commission.

Year House Senate Group Total
2004 $124,169.18 $27,621.73 $822,777.41 $974,568.32
2005 $121,438.86 $46,188.79 $823,886.63 $991,514.28
2006 $130,518.74 $51,622.09 $823,909.48 $1,006,050.31
2007 $238,936.73 $82,006.16 $581,903.88 $902,846.77
2008 $214,720.10 $86,581.75 $621,931.94 $923,233.79
2009 $265,010.19 $114,100.03 $536,343.41 $915,453.63
2010 $243,514.30 $100,886.58 $508,716.20 $853,117.08
2011 $232,563.80 $117,482.22 $597,990.53 $948,036.55
2012 $223,114.15 $104,293.33 $540,691.04 $868,098.52
2013 $229,757.82 $113,090.48 $612,147.69 $954,995.99
2014 $188,888.63 $73,856.28 $587,820.60 $850,565.51
2015 $204,723.28 $76,725.73 $327,747.87 $609,196.88
2016 $174,382.20 $62,508.87 $284,252.01 $521,143.08
2017 $106,372.70 $47,068.54 $847,808.64 $1,001,249.88
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