A Missouri lawmaker’s introduced legislation to allow residents to contribute to political campaigns through tax credits.
A measure from Republican Senator Rob Schaaf of St. Joseph establishes the Taxation with Representation Act which lets citizens send up to $100 of their state incomes taxes to candidates.
He says it’s meant to offset the influence of big money special interests in politics. “Given the Supreme Court’s position that special interests can spend as much money as they want independently, the only possible way to break that is to empower the average every day citizen to have a bigger voice in government” said Schaaf. “(It would) allow candidates to mount campaigns without relying on big money donors. The attempt here is break the effect of big money in politics.”
The tax credit could be contributed to candidates for any statewide office or any candidate running to be a state Representative or Senator.
Under the measure, the state Department of Revenue would be charged with overseeing the process of granting the credits. The Missouri Ethics Commission would be required to enforce its provisions.
There’s been no study or estimation as to how the legislation would impact state tax collections.
Another proposal from Senator Schaaf would make changes to a constitutional amendment overwhelmingly approved by voters in last month’s election. Amendment 2 received almost 1.9 million votes, more than any candidate running for office.
Schaaf says his proposal would address problems with the amendment which imposes limits on individual campaign contributions. “There are just some problems with the way that it was drafted that unintentionally created some loopholes.”
There have been complaints that Amendment 2 in its current form fails to place any restrictions on outside political groups, which raise unlimited funds. Some of the groups which are registered as 501C4 organizations don’t even have to identify their donors.
A lawsuit was filed just before the amendment went into effect earlier this month which asked the court to block a ban on certain donors.
The amendment restricts individual campaign donations to $2,600 for candidates and $25,000 to political party committees per election.
Interestingly, a number of office holders collected large sums in the run-up to the amendment’s implementation. Governor-elect Eric Greitens was the most aggressive in gathering such donations, having collected $2.6 million between Election Day and December 8th, when the law went into effect.
Campaign contribution limits were done away with by state lawmakers in 2008. Their reintroduction is expected to renew the importance of the state Democratic and Republican parties in raising campaign funds.