When it comes to campaign financing, one name stands out: Rex Sinquefield.
In 2013, an off year politically, the retired financier gave millions in campaign contributions — primarily to ballot initiatives and political action committees. Most of Sinquefield's money went toward an ultimately unsuccessful campaign to override Gov. Jay Nixon's veto of tax cut legislation. Sinquefield also gave hundreds of thousands of dollars for ballot initiatives, including one to curtail teacher tenure.
For most intents and purposes, it was all quiet on Missouri's electoral front in 2013. But that didn’t stop the money from flowing to candidates and campaigns.
Throughout last year, a diverse group of donors gave well over $21 million worth of donations of $5,000 or more. That money flowed to candidates, political party committees, ballot initiatives and political action committees in all corners of the state.
The long-simmering fight over campaign contribution limits is heating up once again. The latest chapter: a Kansas City court is to hear oral arguments Wednesday in the case between Missouri Roundtable for Life, which supports contribution limits, and libertarian interests, headed up by Rex Sinquefield.
Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon is once again pressing for ethics reform in state government, and for the resurrection of campaign donation limits. But this time, Nixon may be hoping for stronger interest in the Republican-controlled General Assembly, where some GOP legislators now share some of his views.
Missouri's biggest political contributor is fighting against a constitutional amendment that would severely limit his power.
Libertarian multimillionaire Rex Sinquefield and one of his lobbyists, Travis Brown, filed a lawsuit against Secretary of State Jason Kander and Auditor Tom Schweich, arguing that a proposed ballot initiative violates their right to free speech.
St. Louis aldermen have begun considering whether to limit the amount of money flowing into city politics.
The measure from Ald. Scott Ogilvie limits donations of all kinds to $3,000 for aldermanic races, and $10,00 to contests for board president, mayor and comptroller. The amounts are indexed to inflation, but they do not apply to candidates spending their own money.
The Missouri Senate declined to vote on an ethics bill, including a proposal to reinstate campaign contribution limits.
The Senate on Wednesday debated the measure that also would have imposed a 10-year period before lawmakers could become lobbyists. The bill also would've required lawmakers to electronically report contributions of more than $25 during legislative sessions.
Time is running short for any legislative efforts to tighten Missouri's campaign finance rules.
Campaign finance appears to have taken a secondary position at the state Capitol, where the focus has included economic development, taxes and the Medicaid health care program for the poor and disabled. Lawmakers have about a month remaining until their mandatory adjournment.