August 21, 2014

Ethics Commission wants state ethics laws modernized

The state Ethics Commission is has some ideas about what a new ethics law should contain, if lawmakers look to pass one to replace what the State Supreme Court threw out in February.

Missouri State Capital

The Court rescinded that law not because of its content, but because it was passed with an unrelated measure, violating the state Constitution.

Ethics Commission Executive Director Julie Allen says Missouri law needs to be brought into the current century.

“For example, the law related to what a candidate has to put on their campaign material to show who paid for it was written quite a few years ago, so it doesn’t directly address the way a lot of campaigns are going today through internet, e-mail, Twitter and those types of things.”

Another area involves enforcement. “Are there any laws that keep someone from lying to an investigator, or obstructing ethics investigations? That’s really just holding individuals accountable, giving us the tools to enforce the law again.”

Allen says the discussion of how to update ethics laws is not just happening in Missouri. “A lot of states are looking at how do they bring their statutes up to date, because I think many states were probably, their ethics commissions were created about the same kind of timeframe so I think that’s an issue that many states are looking at now.”

She says the Commission wants to work with state legislators if and when a new ethics proposal is crafted.