Kander proposes legislative ethics reforms

Jan 15, 2014

missouri house floor
Credit File Photo / KBIA News

Missouri Secretary of State Jason Kander has unveiled a wide-ranging ethics proposal he wants lawmakers to take up and pass this year.

It includes restoring campaign contribution limits, banning gifts from lobbyists to all state elected officials, and requiring a 3-year waiting period before ex-lawmakers can work as lobbyists. Kander said if adopted, Missouri can go from having the worst ethics system in the country to the best:

"This dance has gone on long enough," he said. "It's time to get serious, and by passing this bill lawmakers can finally craft a system worthy of the fine people who sent them to Jefferson City in the first place."

Kander's proposal would also give the Missouri Ethics Commission the authority to levy fines and remove candidates from election ballots, and it would make it a felony to obstruct an ethics commission investigation.

Missouri is currently the only state with no limits on campaign donations or lobbyist gifts, and no ban on lawmakers becoming lobbyists immediately after leaving office. Kander's proposal would also award whistleblowers 10 percent of an ethics fine for reporting violations.

The bill is sponsored in the Missouri House by fellow Democrat Kevin McManus of Kansas City. It’s not expected to make much, if any, progress in the Republican-dominated General Assembly. Democratic Governor Jay Nixon has also called for restoring campaign contribution limits.