If you have never heard of the term “doxing,” you will soon.
According to Webster’s Dictionary, the definition of dox is “to publicly identify or publish private information about (someone) especially as a form of punishment or revenge.”
Republican House members used the potential threat of doxing as one factor in their decision Thursday to approve an amendment to HB 445 that is designed to protect lawmakers’ private correspondence in relation to the deliberative decision-making process.
But, some in the opposing party say the correspondences are public documents and should adhere to the state’s Sunshine laws, especially since the passage of Amendment 1, also known as Clean Missouri, last fall by Missouri voters to ensure transparency in government.
Supporters of the bill stress private communications from private citizens could be “weaponized” against them by outside groups with opposing viewpoints, or others who wish them harm.
Private information of citizens such as addresses and phone numbers could be obtained through Sunshine law requests and posted in public forums.
The bill was sponsored by State Rep. Shamed Dogan, R-Ballwin, and was passed Thursday by a heavily partisan 108 to 41 margin.
All four Republicans representing Franklin County, Dottie Bailey, Eureka, Aaron Griesheimer, Washington, John Simmons, Krakow, and Nate Tate, St. Clair, voted in favor of the bill and its amendments.
The bill will now go to the Senate where Majority Leader Caleb Rowden has said there will be even more changes.
Rowden told the Associated Press the lawmakers in his chamber will do their best to make sure constituents are protected without restricting information to a point the transparency is compromised.
Clean Missouri was placed on the November ballot as an initiative petition after more than 346,000 signatures were collected from residents statewide.
This amendment deals with redistricting and gifts to lawmakers. It passed statewide by a 61 to 38 percent margin with 1,459,576 votes in favor of the amendment and 895,012 against.
The statewide campaign for Clean Missouri kicked off in Washington last August and Franklin County voters embraced the measure, by a margin of 54 to 45 percent, with 22,953 votes in favor and 18,888 against.
With its passage the Missouri Constitution was amended to:
• Change process and criteria for redrawing state legislative districts during reapportionment;
• Change limits on campaign contributions that candidates for state Legislature can accept from individuals or entities;
• Establish a limit on gifts that state legislators, and their employees, can accept from paid lobbyists;
• Prohibit state legislators, and their employees, from serving as paid lobbyists for a period of time;
• Prohibit political fundraising by candidates for members of the state Legislature on state property; and
• Require legislative records and proceedings to be open to the public.
During the first few days of the new legislative session earlier this month, lawmakers began taking on the new Amendment 1 passed last fall.
When asked his thoughts on the new amendment and transparency Gov. Mike Parson told The Missourian if he had his way, he would have a portal put in for the press and public to access any and all documents from the governor’s office.
As for the other portions of the amendment, Parson’s comments were not as positive, but any potential changes should not be done arbitrarily by lawmakers.
“Everyone in this room knows this was really about redistricting and I have some concerns with that portion,” he said. “It is the will of the people and to make any change I think it needs to go back to the voters. Maybe it’s time to take a look at the entire initiative petition process.”