A new effort to reinstall campaign contribution limits in Missouri has drawn reaction from both sides of the issue.
Democratic Attorney General Chris Koster, who’s running for governor, supported a decision to remove limits in 2008 as an effort to bring transparency and accountability to the process.
He now thinks campaign financing has become much more clouded as contributions have from risen from $25,000 then, to $1 million or more in 2016. “There are many of these seven figure, million, two-million dollar contributions that are being hidden behind walls of interlocking campaign committees, so that you can never really tell who is giving this money” said Koster. “And so the effort toward transparency has been completely shattered.” Koster calls the rapid rise in contributions into seven figures this year “incredible, breathtaking inflation”.
Although he thinks it’s “imperfect”, Koster backs a ballot initiative certified this week to cap contributions. He says he’d bring it up to the legislature if he’s elected governor. “One of my tasks will be to go back before the joint session of the Missouri House and Senate and advocate to them that they return sensible campaign contributions to this state.”
The campaign supporting Koster’s opponent, Eric Greitens, has filed an ethics complaint over a $1 million contributions by the “Jobs and Opportunity” PAC. The suit claims the group, which is associated with the Democratic Governors Association, failed to report itself as an out of state committee. Greitens accepted a nearly $2 million donation last month from a Super PAC called “Seals for Truth”.
In opposition, Republican state Senator Ed Emery of Lamar thinks setting any limit on donations is an infringement on individual liberty. “I can’t imagine how that ever entered into the minds of our founders that the government should tell me how I can and can’t use my money. I can see that in a Marxist society where the government sets the limits, where the government sets the quotas.”
Emery also contends setting limits on campaign contributions would give an unfair advantage to incumbent candidates. “The incumbent has a far greater resource list of contributors, and access to donors than typically someone who is challenging an incumbent.”
The ballot measure going before voters in November caps contributions to statewide candidates at $2,600, while donations to political parties would be limited to $25,000. If passed, the initiative would become an amendment to the Missouri Constitution.