A Cole County Circuit judge has declined a request to stop the Missouri Ethics Commission from proceeding with its plan to hear from candidates who claim compliance with a State Supreme Court ruling on campaign financing would cause a hardship.
Judge Jon Beetem denied Rep. Margaret Donnelly’s (D-St. Louis) request to issue a temporary restraining order. Donnelly had argued before Beetem earlier this week that the restraining order was needed to prevent the Ethics Commission from moving forward until her complaint against plans to hold closed hearings was fully aired in court. The Ethics Commission has argued that state law compels it to hold hearings on hardship cases in secret. Donnelly counters that such hearings don’t fit with the normal proceedings of the commission and should be open to the public.
The State Supreme Court ruled in July that a law approved by the legislature that lifted campaign contribution limits was unconstitutional. It made its ruling retroactive and left enforcement up to the Ethics Commission. The court ruled candidates must return money collected in excess of the contribution limits unless they can convince the Ethics Commission that to do so would create a hardship.
Most candidates are voluntarily giving back their excess donations.