Campaign Donation Limits

Blunt – Flickr/Gage Skidmore; McCaskill – Flickr/SenatorMcCaskill

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.
Sarah Kellogg | St. Louis Public Radio intern | File photo

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.
Jason Rosenbaum | St. Louis Public Radio | File photo

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.

StanJourdan | Flickr

For now, it’s all over but the counting. The Missouri Secretary of State’s office will be busy the next few weeks determining whether five initiative-petition proposals collected enough valid signatures to get on the state’s August or November ballot.

Sen. David Pearce presents his bill capping campaign contributions Tuesday during the Senate Rules Committee.
Jason Rosenbaum | St. Louis Public Radio

Missouri lawmakers have spent the first part of the session angling to overhaul the state’s ethics regulations. But for at least one Republican lawmaker, one issue has been absent from the discussion: capping campaign contributions.

Sen. David Pearce
Marshall Griffin I St. Louis Public Radio

On the latest episode of the Politically Speaking podcast, St. Louis Public Radio’s Jason Rosenbaum and Jo Mannies use the magic of radio to welcome state Sen. David Pearce to the podcast for the first time.

The Warrensburg Republican has entered his final year in the Missouri Senate, as term limits will prevent him from running for re-election.

Contrary to social media speculation, Gov. Jay Nixon didn’t use his final State of the State speech to endorse Bernie Sanders, do a backflip or find the Afikoman.

Compared to those death-defying feats (especially seeking out the hard-to-find Afikoman), the Democratic governor’s address was fairly tame. He stuck to themes embedded within his other seven State of the State addresses, such as a desire to expand Medicaid, freeze college tuition and boost K-12 education spending.

Jason Rosenbaum | St. Louis Public Radio

To repair his reputation, Missouri Attorney Chris Koster has announced self-imposed guidelines on what campaign donations he will accept as he runs his office while also running for governor in 2016.

In a statement, Koster said he was advancing “sweeping new transparency measures’’ that he acknowledged were intended to address some conflict-of-interest accusations that have been leveled against him.

But he also suggested that the General Assembly consider imposing similar campaign limits on other public officials.

His key restrictions include:

U.S. Supreme Court
Matt H. Wade | Wikipedia

(Updated 4:30 p.m., Wed., April 2 with comments from U.S. Sen. Roy Blunt, R-Mo.)

For the second time in four years, the five Republican-appointed justices on the U.S. Supreme Court have opened the door for rich donors to increase their influence on elections. 

The Western District Court of Appeals of Missouri has resurrected an initiative-petition effort to restore campaign donation limits in Missouri. But the proposal’s backers may not have enough time to collect the signatures needed to get their proposal before voters.

The lawyer for the appeals-court loser — wealthy donor Rex Sinquefield — noted that its side has 15 days to decide whether to appeal this week’s ruling to the Missouri Supreme Court.

“We have some time,’’ said Sinquefield lawyer Marc Ellinger.

(Official Portrait, Missouri Attorney General's office)

While Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon, Secretary of State Jason Kander and even some Republicans talk about restoring limits on campaign donations, the man considered the likely Democratic nominee for governor in 2016 is collecting large donations at a frenetic clip.

Just this year, Missouri Attorney General Chris Koster has raised more than $1.2 million from 68 donations larger than $5,000 apiece, according to the Missouri Ethics Commission’s records. In fact, most of his large donations have been more than $10,000 each.

This article originally appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: Retired financier Rex Sinquefield -- one of the state's most generous political donors -- is part of a lawsuit challenging a proposed constitutional amendment to establish limits on campaign contributions.

And a spokesman says that Sinquefield plans to seek legal action against any such proposal, because he staunchly opposes limits.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: A Board of Aldermen bill limiting campaign contributions for St. Louis offices received praise – and attracted tough questions – during Monday's committee hearing.

While the bill's chief sponsor said that he plans to tweak the bill’s language, he added that he would keep pushing the measure through the process.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: St. Louis Mayor Francis Slay is taking a wait-and-see approach on a recently introduced bill to cap campaign contributions for city offices.

But Slay said he supports “reasonable” contribution limits, which he noted were in place for years before the Missouri General Assembly removed them in 2008.