A first step is being taken in a process that could result in millions of campaign contributions being returned.

Candidates who took advantage of the lifting of the limits might have to give money back now that the limits have been re-imposed. The Missouri Ethics Commission, acting on a Supreme Court ruling , is sending notices to those candidates. The notices will inform the candidates that they might be in violation of state law. The Supreme Court ruled that candidates who exceeded the limits must return the excess unless a hardship can be demonstrated. The court left enforcement of its decision up to the Ethics Commission.

Commission Executive Director Bob Connor says this could be a long process. There are nearly 500 campaign committees. The commission must determine which violated the now-reinstated limits and individual hearings could be held on each one. Connor declined to estimate how long the process would take, stating that it would largely be determined by the reaction of the candidates.

Commission Chairman Warren Nieburg says candidates have a right to be notified.

This process could have a big impact on the governor’s race. Governor Blunt’s re-election campaign might have to return more than three million dollars and though his top rival, Attorney General Jay Nixon, could have to return more than a million, it would close considerably the funding lead Blunt has over Nixon in the 2008 race. 

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