Campaign Donation Limits | St. Louis Public Radio

Campaign Donation Limits

St. Louis County Executive Steve Stenger confers with Councilman Pat Dolan at a Dec. 19, 2017, meeting of the St. Louis County Council.
File Photo | Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

St. Louis County Executive Steve Stenger is refusing to go along with legislation providing raises in the Justice Center — which includes the jail.

At issue is whether nurses that work in the Justice Center should get raises from a half-cent sales tax known as Proposition P.

With elections looming, tensions continue between the St. Louis County Council and County Executive Stenger
File photo I Jason Rosenbaum | St. Louis Public Radio

St. Louis County voters will be asked in August whether to expand the County Council’s powers and impose campaign donation limits on candidates running for county offices.

The council gave final approval Tuesday to the proposed charter change, which embraces a number of issues.

Jeff Clements (left) and Alderwoman Megan Green (right) discussed a nation-wide campaign thats calls for a 28th amendment to limit campaign contributions.
Alex Heuer | St. Louis Public Radio

A series of U.S. Supreme Court decisions including Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission struck down long-standing campaign finance laws. The rulings determined that the use of unlimited money to influence the outcome of an election by individuals, corporations, unions and other entities is free speech protected by the First Amendment.

The organizations American Promise and American Constitution Society have launched a national town hall tour to garner support for election financing reform which could result in a proposal for a 28th amendment to the U.S. Constitution.

File Photo |Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens is the state’s first chief executive to set up nonprofit groups that can raise unlimited amounts of money from unknown donors.

The governor’s chief advisor, Austin Chambers, says there’s nothing unusual about it — and he’s right. Governors in Michigan, Illinois, Massachusetts and Georgia, as well as New York Mayor Bill DiBlasio, are among the politicians who have set up similar nonprofit organizations, or have allies who have set them up.

Once perceived as all-powerful, Missouri’s two major political parties have been relegated to the balcony ever since the state got rid of campaign-donation limits in 2008.  That change allowed the bulk of the state’s political cash to flow directly to the candidates. 

The state Republican and Democratic parties found most of their income eliminated, and ended up being beholden to their top politicians for payments just to keep their offices open and staffed. 

But now, unless the courts rule otherwise, Missouri once again has campaign donation limits for some elective offices, courtesy of Amendment 2, which almost 70 percent of the state's voters approved last month. 

stacks of money
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Updated Dec. 8  from Dec. 1 article to reflect more donations and suit actually filed - Opponents filed suit Wednesday to block part of Missouri’s new campaign donation law slated to go into effect Thurday. The suit doesn't challenge the new campaign-finance limits, but does ask the court to block a ban on some donors.

Meanwhile, some politicians – notably Gov.-elect Eric Greitens – appear to be taking advantage of the guaranteed one-month window to stock up on cash before the new limits go into effect. On Wednesday, the final day of unlimited donations, Greitens collected $2,382,860.

StanJourdan | Flickr

Less than two weeks after the November 2014 election, only three proposed initiative petitions for the 2016 ballot had been filed with the Missouri secretary of state’s office.

But this time, less than two weeks after the November 8 election, the 2018 floodgates are already open. As of Thursday, at least 39 proposed initiative petitions have been filed. Dave Robertson, head of the political science department at the University of Missouri-St. Louis, ties the state’s early deluge of 2018 initiatives to voter unrest, nationally as well as locally.

Gubernatorial candidate Eric Greitens looks at his ballot before sitting down to vote at the St. Louis Public Library in the Central West End on Tuesday.
File photo I Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

Of the four constitutional amendments passed by Missouri voters on Tuesday, rumblings have started about legal challenges to three of them.

Echo Bluff State Park
Courtesy of Missouri Department of Natural Resources

Updated at 1 a.m. Nov. 9 with final results - The attempts to raise cigarette and tobacco taxes for roads or early childhood education went down to defeat.

St. Louis resident Jonathan Pulphus votes at Patrick Henry Elementary School on Sept. 16, 2016.
Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

Missouri’s long, weird, sad, contentious, explosive and unpredictable election cycle is almost over.

In roughly 24 hours, Missourians from Tarkio to New Madrid will head to the polls. Beyond registering their presidential preferences, the good people of our state will decide on pivotal U.S. Senate and governor’s races. They’ll also choose who fills out practically and politically important statewide offices and figure out how large the GOP majorities in the Missouri General Assembly will be after January.

U.S. Sen. Claire McCaskill speaks with reporters before the start of the presidential debate at Washington University. (Oct. 9, 2016)
File photo I Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

U.S. Senator Claire McCaskill understands why people are fed up with the election. But “that’s no excuse to check out of democracy or give up the freedom we have in our country to decide who our leaders are,” she told St. Louis on the Air host Don Marsh on the Friday before many people will head to the polls on Nov. 8.

Susannah Lohr | St. Louis Public Radio

Missouri is seeing an unprecedented flood of outside money – some of it the hard-to-trace “dark money” – aimed at the state’s candidates for the U.S. Senate and governor.

But there’s a stark contrast between how the money flows into the two contests, because of the difference in federal and state campaign-finance laws.

File photo | Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

For roughly a decade, the Democratic gubernatorial nominee was a firm opponent of campaign donation limits. When he voted to get rid of contribution curbs as a Republican state senator in 2006 and a Democratic state senator in 2008, he believed that an unlimited system would give Missourians a better sense of where money came from and where it was going.

But  Chris Koster abandoned his long-standing opposition to donation limits earlier this year and threw his support behind a proposed constitutional amendment that limits contributions to $2,600 for state-based offices. He says that the current system where million-dollar donations are relatively commonplace is completely out of control.

Alderman Scott Ogilvie, D-24th Ward, speaks on Friday about his bill to cap city-based campaign contribtions.
Jason Rosenbaum | St. Louis Public Radio

Updated on October 7: The St. Louis Board of Aldermen gave final approval to campaign donation limits for city-based offices.

The Board backed legislation that would place a $10,000 cap on donations to city offices. It would take effect next April after the city’s municipal election cycle.

The bill now goes to St. Louis Mayor Francis Slay's desk.

Gage Skidmore | Flickr

U.S. Sen. Claire McCaskill, D-Mo., plans to travel around Missouri and the country in coming weeks campaigning for favored candidates and causes on the Nov. 8 ballot. Among her activities: attempting to defeat her Missouri colleague, U.S. Sen. Roy Blunt, R-Mo. – even though they often work together.

“It is awkward,’’ McCaskill said in an interview. But as she sees it, she’s simply mirroring Blunt’s actions of a few years ago.

Aldermen Joe Vaccaro (rear standing) and Shane Cohn (front standing) debate the minimum wage increase on July 20, 2015.
File photo | Sarah Kellogg | St. Louis Public Radio

A three-year effort to limit the amount of money flowing into city elections took a small step forward at the St. Louis Board of Aldermen on Tuesday.

The city's Legislation committee, on a 9-0 vote, approved Alderman Scott Ogilvie's, D-24th Ward, measure capping contributions at $10,000 to each candidate every four years. A similar bill Ogilvie introduced in 2013 never received a vote.

(via Flickr/hlkljgk)

So far, Missouri voters will decide six ballot questions this fall. The deadline for issues to be certified for the Nov. 8 ballot was Aug. 30.

That number could rise to seven if a judge rules to validate about 2,200 more signatures gathered for a proposal to allow the medical use of marijuana.

The Rev. Starsky Wilson speaks at a news conference on Tuesday in favor of a tobacco tax increase for early childhood education and health care.
Jason Rosenbaum | St. Louis Public Radio

Missourians could weigh in this fall on four ballot initiatives that Secretary of State Jason Kander certified on Tuesday. But the tally of items could potentially constrict, depending on what courts decide in the coming weeks.

Updated with more money: Since June 10, Republican gubernatorial candidate Catherine Hanaway has received roughly $2.4 million from three groups: Grow Missouri, Great St. Louis and Missourians for Excellence in Government.

And all three groups got their money from one man: wealthy financier Rex Sinquefield, who is – by far – the state’s top political donor.

Alderman Scott Ogilvie, D-24th, leveled harsh criticism on the stadium proposal during Thursday's meeting.
File photo | Jason Rosenbaum | St. Louis Public Radio

When St. Louis Alderman Scott Ogilvie proposed limiting political donations for St. Louis-based offices three years ago, the 24th Ward Democrat wanted to place curbs on what he felt was an abnormal state campaign finance system.

He’s introducing the legislation again, and there may an added sense of urgency to pass Ogilvie’s bill – especially if a campaign finance ballot initiative makes it into the Missouri Constitution.

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