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

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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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I Canvassed For the First Time and It Was Great

This past week I had the privilege to go out on my first canvass. To be honest, I went into it a little nervous. But after talking to the first few people and hearing what they had to say on ethics in Missouri, I settled in and had a wonderful time.

Here are just a few things that I took away from my first canvassing shift:

  • I shared my enthusiasm for making Missouri a better place with all of the people I met, and hopefully I convinced them to join us in calling for change;
  • I got to explore Kansas City, and saw parts of it I had yet to see;
  • I got to meet new people from all walks of life;
  • And I teamed up with nice, like-minded folks to canvass the area and spread the word about the CLEAN Missouri campaign.

So, if you are passionate about getting big money out of politics and are looking for a way to help, get out and canvass for signatures. You get the opportunity to make a difference and increase integrity, accountability, and transparency in our state government.

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Remember the three S’s.

We sat down with Melissa, a volunteer with Peace United Church of Christ in St. Louis, to talk about her experience as part of the Clean Missouri team, and some of her best tips for canvassing.

Q: Why are you a part of Clean Missouri?

A: There is so much craziness going on in Washington DC that I cannot do anything about. With Clean Missouri, I can get involved and have a real effect at the state and local level.

Q: What has surprised you most about this campaign?

A: How easy signature gathering is! Missourians are desperate to take action against the big money constantly flowing into our state. By signing the petition, people feel like they are doing something that affects them every day.

Q: What would Missouri look like if big donors didn’t run the show?

A: I think if these changes are implemented, it will make a huge difference. More people will come out and vote because they are more likely to feel like their vote matters. I also think candidates will have to think differently about how they run their campaigns. They’ll need to listen to the voices of their constituents and not the high dollar donors.

Q: What would you tell a first time volunteer?

A: Remember the three S’s: Step, Smile, Speak. I’ve never collected signatures for a petition before, and the Clean campaign provides lots of opportunities for training and practice. Everyone will have a different approach to gathering, you just have to figure out what works best for you.

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
READ MORE

From Hannibal to Joplin, Editorial Boards Are Calling for Reform

From Hannibal to Joplin, St. Joseph to Cape Girardeau, editorial boards are calling for desperately-needed reforms to change the way big donors, lobbyists, and partisan politics hold Missouri back. Here are seven that Clean Missouri believes highlight the problem loud and clear…

Kansas City Star: “Here’s how citizens can finally clean up Missouri Government”
From the KC Star in September 2017:

“If anything is going to get done when it comes to cleaning up state government, the responsibility will fall to the people themselves.”

St. Joseph News-Press: “Gift ban at capitol overdue”
From the News-Press in May 2016:

“[A] ban on most lobbyist gifts to lawmakers is a necessity. There is no ethics victory to proclaim without this component…”

Kirksville Daily Express Editor: “If you don’t think this is a problem, you’re not paying attention.”
From the Kirksville Daily Express Managing Editor, Jason Hunsicker, in May 2016:

“Missouri used to have some campaign contribution limits but a court ruling a few years ago broke the dam and the elected officials experiencing the flood – the only people who can stop it – are just riding the wave. Sure, you have a few brave souls who file legislation each session but those bills go nowhere. If you don’t think this is a problem, you’re not paying attention.

Unlimited and often untraceable campaign contributions compound the issue. Person X writes a $100,000 check to a private group, which makes a donation to a political action committee, which in turn makes a donation to a state campaign committee, which in turn makes a donation to or spends money on behalf of a candidate. Who is pulling the strings? You, the voter, will never know.

Missouri has a problem, folks, and I don’t know how it gets fixed. Citizen petition for an amendment? Even if it passes, the Legislature can “fix” those items before they become law. Anything with teeth will surely have them removed. Lawmakers won’t bite the hand that feeds them so well.

Alabama, Nebraska, Oregon, Utah, Virginia and Missouri. Money, money, money.

This is not a list we should strive to be part of.

While they’re cleaning up, legislators also should subject themselves to the state’s “Sunshine Law.” Lawmakers have contended that they are not “public governmental bodies” under the law. Thus, their emails and calendars are considered closed records. That’s nonsense.

No wonder the public doesn’t trust politicians.

Legislators arrive in Jefferson City and forget where they came from: a place where lunch isn’t free, dark money doesn’t pay the rent and selling out isn’t the way to land a better job.”

Blue Springs Examiner: “Missouri needs to overhaul the way it draws political boundaries.”
From the Examiner in March 2012:

“An answer for Missouri’s overly partisan mess

The Round 2 bipartisan commission came up with a map – the one in play at the moment – that sent current officeholders, particularly some from St. Louis, into a state of shock and outrage at the very idea that two incumbents might have to run against one another.

That’s just one part of the problem. There are also disputes about the state House map and the U.S. House map, and the Associated Press points out that so far this year there’s been just one week without a new lawsuit, a hearing or a redistricting commission meeting.

Big picture: Census figures have been out for a year, and new districts to reflect the population shifts reflected by those figures could have been – should have been – done by the Fourth of July last year. That’s if the state had a nonpartisan redistricting process – one that pays no heed to where the incumbents live. Other states do it.

We get gerrymandering, and we get self-interest ahead of public interest. We can demand better.”

St. Louis Post-Dispatch: “Missouri got a D-minus in a recent report by a nonprofit group that analyzed whether states have adequate laws to prevent corruption. The only surprise is that the state didn’t get an F.”
From the Post-Dispatch in November 2015:

“Missouri got a D-minus in a recent report by a nonprofit group that analyzed whether states have adequate laws to prevent corruption. The only surprise is that the state didn’t get an F.

Legislators in the Show-Me State can take unlimited campaign checks. They enjoy unlimited lobbyist-provided meals, ballgame tickets and lavish receptions. And they can cash in on their public service by resigning as legislators one day and registering as lobbyists the next.

Missouri is the only state in the country with no limits in all three of those areas, an embarrassing trifecta that you might think would prompt action

A zero tolerance or “no cup of coffee” law is needed because laws capping gifts will always have loopholes. Last session, the House proposed a $25 per-gift cap. But that would still have allowed four lobbyists to each chip in $25 for a legislator’s $100 meal.

And the public might never know who was wined and dined. Today, lobbyists can simply report that they furnished food for a committee or the full House, rather than identify specific individuals. Thus, the recipients of hundreds of thousands of dollars in lobbyist largesse each year cannot be tracked.

In another neat trick, some legislators use campaign funds to reimburse lobbyists for meals and tickets. Voila! The expense disappears from online lobbying reports.

Legislators argue that an ethics bill must be drafted narrowly. They say covering too much ground would invite defeat. That is a bogus argument. The bills die because legislators balk at changing the cozy status quo.

An ethics bill needs to reinstate campaign contribution limits and outlaw the secret channeling of money through sham nonprofits. Any 501-c-4 organization that spends money on election advertising ought to be required to register with the Missouri Ethics Commission and identify its donors.”

Columbia Tribune: “Missouri’s ethics laws are the most lax in the nation.”
From the Tribune in January 2016:

“We can definitely say that after the legislature rolled back campaign contribution limits in 2008, Missouri had the worst ethics laws in the country.

Missouri’s ethics laws are the most lax in the nation. We have no limits on campaign contributions or lobbyist meals, travel and entertainment gifts. Several lawmakers have made news by resigning to become political consultants, and others do so while remaining in office.”

Hannibal Courier-Post: “Government works best when it is transparent and communicative with constituents.”
From the Courier-Posts session review editorial in June 2016:

“But most people can agree: government works best when it is transparent and communicative with constituents.

Perhaps the most troubling issue to arise from the 2016 Legislative session is the weakening of the Missouri Sunshine Law — the rule that allows regular citizens, not just the press, to ask for documents and information from any publicly-funded entity.

Laws enacted are designed to exempt information from Sunshine Law requests, including police information and agricultural information.

Open, transparent government best serves the people. The Missouri Legislature took a step back from that this year, a disappointing mark on what could be considered a successful year.”

Kansas City Star: “Passing tough new laws would show that Missouri lawmakers are serious about ethics reform. Alas, they are not.”
From The Star in April 2016:

“Missouri ethics reform? Riiiight.

Put this in the believe-it-when-you-see-it category: The Missouri General Assembly is headed toward approving a watered-down ethics reform bill.

House and Senate negotiators recently decided they could support making lawmakers wait six months before coming back to the Capitol to get paid to lobby their former colleagues.

In Jefferson City, this is considered a victory because — right now — there’s no limit. In fact, in recent years a few lawmakers have abruptly left office and immediately started work as lobbyists. That kind of system raises a good question in the public’s mind about whether lawmakers vote certain ways just to help line up good-paying private sector gigs.

However, legislators still have not handled the disheartening fact that Missouri allows unlimited campaign contributions. Passing tough new laws would show that Missouri lawmakers are serious about ethics reform. Alas, they are not.”

With the Clean Missouri amendment, we can hold politicians accountable and crack down on lobbyists to level the playing field for everyday people.

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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Kansas City Star endorses Clean Missouri: “Get this on the ballot, and the days of whiffing on ethics will finally end.”


Citizens should clean up Missouri government, tighten ethics rules

What do Missouri lawmakers have in common with the Kansas City Royals?

Both groups have been doing a lot of whiff-whiff-whiffing lately — the Royals when it comes to hitting a baseball, lawmakers when it comes to beefing up their loosey-goosey ethics rules.

Now, citizens are stepping up, attempting to do what legislators won’t. It’s a welcome development.

Some 500 petitioners are roaming the state most weekends collecting signatures for something called “The Clean Missouri Initiative” that would go on the November 2018 ballot. This is the latest bid by regular folks to take control of their government back from the big corporations and the special interests.

The initiative would enshrine in the Missouri Constitution a series of proposals that lawmakers have kicked around for years. In one fell swoop, the state would:

▪  Require that lawmakers wait two years before they could turn around and lobby their colleagues.

▪  Eliminate almost all lobbyist gifts. No freebie could be valued at more than $5. In other words, lobbyists could buy legislators a cup of coffee — and no more.

▪  Eliminate partisan gerrymandering when it comes to redrawing lines for legislative districts. The focus would be to return competitiveness to races that too often have become one-sided incumbent coronations.

▪ Set campaign donation limits at $2,500 for the state Senate and $2,000 for the House.

▪  Open legislative records to public review.

All these proposals have merit and would go a long way toward cleaning up Jefferson City. As an added bonus, members of both parties embrace this proposal. Unlike past initiative efforts that have fallen flat, this one has financial support thanks to a $250,000 donation from the Missouri National Education Association.

Once upon a time in 2017, long-awaited ethics reform appeared to be a promising prospect. Within minutes of taking the oath of office in January, Gov. Eric Greitens signed an executive order banning every employee in his administration from accepting lobbyist gifts. He had spent much of 2016 campaigning on a pledge to clean up government.

But hopes for real reform dissolved amid Greitens’ embrace of dark money and his refusal to disclose how much lobbyists and corporations paid to underwrite his inaugural ball.

Then, in the House, the first bill heard this year was a proposal to ban lobbyist gifts. The House approved the measure in just eight days, which amounts to blinding speed for a legislative body.

Then it hit the state Senate and went kaput.

Sen. Rob Schaaf, a St. Joseph Republican, was incredulous, as were others. He said ethics and campaign reform rank as the “number one issue” for Missourians.

So much promise. So much disappointment in a pattern that has repeated itself over and over again in recent years.

So let’s posit this: If anything is going to get done when it comes to cleaning up state government, the responsibility will fall to the people themselves. Key leaders in the General Assembly seem determined to keep the steady stream of free tickets, free meals and free booze flowing.

Lawmakers have practically invited citizens to take matters into their own hands. And that’s exactly what’s happening.

Missourians have voiced overwhelming support for clean-government initiatives over the years. Get this on the ballot, and the days of whiffing on ethics will finally end.

Read the original at http://www.kansascity.com/opinion/editorials/article170869577.html

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Republican And Democrat Auditors Agree – The Missouri Legislature Needs To End The Secrecy

The Missouri Legislature expects other government bodies to follow the Sunshine Law. But they keep their own records secret.

Many Representatives and Senators believe they don’t have to follow Sunshine Laws, often removing individuals who want to record hearings, refusing to turn over emails when requested, and keeping other key records away from the eyes of everyday Missourians.

State Auditors from both parties have called out our legislators for the double standard:  

Former Republican Auditor Tom Schweich stated in a 2013 report on the Missouri Senate:

“It is a double standard for the legislature to impose additional requirements on other public governmental bodies while enjoying a blanket exemption from the Sunshine Law.”

Democratic State Auditor Nicole Galloway reported:

“The two chambers…have significant shortcomings when it comes to open records and policies related to the Sunshine Law.”

No matter which party you believe in, this is not right.

The Clean Missouri amendment requires all legislative records to be open to the public – ensuring integrity and transparency in our government.

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