A group called Clean Missouri delivered more than 340,000 petition signatures to the Missouri Secretary of State’s office calling for a ballot initiative on ethics reform in state government.
You may have missed the story in the flurry of news reports on the alleged unethical conduct of Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens.
If enough signatures are verified, the package of reforms would be placed on November’s ballot where voters would decide whether to include them in the state’s constitution.
Chief among the reforms are measures that would curtail the influence of lobbyists in state government. One would ban lobbyist gifts to lawmakers of more than $5 and another would mandate a two-year waiting period before ex-lawmakers and former legislative employees could lobby.
The ballot initiative also would cap campaign contributions at $2,500 for state senators and $2,000 for state representatives. Additionally, it would require that legislative records be open to the public and would establish a “nonpartisan state demographer” to draw more neutral legislative districts.
It’s no surprise the reforms are already drawing criticism in the Legislature. Notably, the measure calling for a state demographer has been labeled a partisan attempt to weaken the Republican majority in the General Assembly.
Here is what you can be assured of: If these ethics reforms are going to become the law, it will take a vote by the people. The Legislature does not have the will to enact these changes which are desperately needed.
Gov. Greitens won the governor’s office by promising to eliminate the corruption in Jefferson City. His administration is the epitome of a dumpster fire and is hurtling toward an inglorious conclusion due to his unethical conduct.
Not every legislator is corrupt. Far from it. But if you want to clean up politics in Missouri, you have to turn off the flow of money that is pouring into state government.
Likewise, influence peddling by lobbyists has become ingrained into the fabric of state government. It has become mainstream. It needs to be checked.
If the citizens of this state want to clean up this mess they need to take matters into their own hands. They can do that in November by approving these ballot initiatives.