What started out in the state senate as an ethics bill has been narrowed to a revision of campaign finance laws and tentatively approved. Sponsor Charlie Shields of St. Joseph decided to draft a more tightly-worded version after his original proposal got bogged down in lobbyist control provisions and limits on what lawmakers could do when they are no longer lawmakers. Shields’ bill gives the state ethics commission more teeth for investigations, bars multiple transfers of funds that hide their origin, and requires reports to be filed quickly by lawmakers getting donations during a legislative session.
Shields had to beat back efforts to put campaign donation limits in the bill. He recalls days before Missouri had limits, when independent campaign expenditures were almost nonexistent. “We didn’t have groups (such as) Move On.org or Swift Boats for Justice…Everybody looked at the campaign and the candidate sand said, That is your campaign…and how you behave in terms of negative campaigning or the spreading of lies and mistruths…rested on the candidate ‘ and I would argue probably had cleaner campaigns.” But he says when limits came in, independent groups increased, donation transparency was eroded and campaigns too a turn for the wore in behavior.