Jefferson City, Mo. — Secretary of State Jason Kander today announced legislation to overhaul Missouri’s worst-in-the-nation ethics, lobbying and campaign finance laws. The comprehensive approach is contained in a series of bills filed on Kander’s behalf by Representatives Kevin McManus (D-Kansas City), Randy Dunn (D-Kansas City), Tracy McCreery (D-Olivette) and Jon Carpenter (D-Gladstone).

Provisions in the bills include campaign contribution limits, a ban on lobbyist gifts to elected officials and their staff, improvements in transparency, mandatory ethics training for state officials, an end to the legislator-to-lobbyist revolving door, whistleblower protections for individuals reporting wrongdoing and stiffer criminal penalties for obstructing ethics investigations.

“Last year we put forth one bill that took a comprehensive approach to fixing our broken system. What we heard from the General Assembly was inaction on that bill and a desire for a more segmented approach,” said Kander. “This year, those same solutions are spread across a series of more targeted bills, so I’m optimistic that we’ll see more action from lawmakers.”

Current Missouri law allows politicians to accept both unlimited campaign contributions and unlimited lobbyist gifts. Kander’s plan would prohibit politicians from collecting six-figure donations and free sports tickets. It would also put an end to the political money laundering practice of a campaign receiving contributions from a political action committee that is funded primarily by one person who has already reached his or her contribution limit by creating the presumption that a law has been broken. It places the burden on the politician to prove otherwise.

"Our system has been broken for far too long,” McManus said. “I’m proud to once again partner with Secretary Kander to develop these solutions, and I look forward to working with my colleagues from both parties to fulfill our responsibility to the people who sent us to Jefferson City. "

“Even those who oppose campaign contribution limits and gift bans can agree that Missourians deserve to at least know where the money is coming from and when it is changing hands,” Dunn said.

“Missouri requires continuing education for all kinds of other professions,” Carpenter said. “State officials should be held to at least that same standard when it comes to ethical behavior.”

“Reining in lobbyist gifts, closing the revolving door and strengthening reporting requirements—these aren’t radical ideas,” McCreery said. “They’re ideas we can all get behind.”

Secretary Kander has had a strong record of leadership on campaign finance and ethics reform since he entered the General Assembly in 2008 as a state representative. In 2010, he worked with then-Rep. Tim Flook (R-Liberty) to pass the first major ethics reform in Missouri in nearly 20 years. Since then, he’s continued to work for change with legislators of both parties.

The bills are HB 304 (Dunn), HB 305 (Dunn), HB 313 (Carpenter), HB 327 (McCreery), and HB 342.

(Courtesy of Office of the Missouri Secretary of State)