Governor Nixon says that campaign contribution limits could end allegations of “pay to play” at the state Capitol.
A Kansas City Star investigation suggests former House Speaker Rod Jetton, now a political consultant, steers campaign donations to politicians who push through favorable legislation. The Star calls Jetton a consultant famous for behind-the-scenes maneuvering who has attracted the attention of the FBI which is questioning lawmakers about allegations that contributions are required before legislative action is taken.
Governor Nixon, a Democrat, declines to comment directly on the allegations surrounding Jetton, a Republican, but uses the opportunity to promote a favorite issue.
“I think we need reasonable campaign contribution limits,” Nixon told reporters after an event in Jefferson City. “I think having unlimited contributions has taken away the broad base of support at all levels of government that are very, very important, that touch people in a democracy.”
Nixon says unlimited campaign contributions automatically draw accusations of “pay to play”, but he says it also allows candidates to become aloof from the people, relying on just a few wealthy contributors rather than a multitude of smaller donors.
“I think when you get to this situation, with these huge checks, especially in these smaller races (state representative races), the perception out there becomes one that is troubling and I think in the long term it becomes especially troubling,” said Nixon.
Lawmakers have shunned campaign contribution limits in favor of more open reporting requirements.
The article in the Star claims that Jetton’s clients pocket huge campaign donations after supporting legislation backed by wealthy Missourians. It further claims that Jetton often acts like a lobbyist, not a political consultant. Lobbyists must comply with stricter ethics rules while working the Capitol.
Nixon said that campaign contribution limits aren’t the only action state lawmakers can take to remove any perception of corruption at the Capitol. He also advocated lobbyist reform and said state law should more closely reflect federal ethics statutes.