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Government, Politics & Issues

Slay taking a wait-and-see approach on bill capping campaign contributions

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.

Alderman Scott Ogilvie’s bill – introduced in the Board of Aldermen earlier this month – would, among other things, cap contributions at $10,000 an election cycle for citywide offices like mayor, comptroller and president of the Board of Aldermen. It would also impose a $3,000 limit for aldermanic candidates.

Ogilvie, I-24th Ward, told the Beacon earlier this month that the bill would put the city in line with other jurisdictions with campaign contribution limits. He also said that the move is not unprecedented, as Kansas City imposed contribution limits in 2010.

Asked about the proposal on Thursday, Slay told the Beacon that he hadn’t read the bill in detail. He also noted that the measure still had a ways to go before being passed by the Board of Aldermen.

But Slay said he’s “always supported reasonable campaign contribution limits.” And he added that in the past, city candidates had to abide by limits much more stringent that what’s being proposed in Ogilvie’s bill.

“It’s not something I’m surprised about and not something that we haven’t been used to in the past,” Slay said. “We’ve had campaign contribution limits far below the ones I understand are being suggested there. I think I ran one campaign where the limit was $200. So these limits are not unusual.”

According to the Missouri Ethics Commission, Slay had six donations this year (totaling over $166,000) over the $10,000 limit. During that same time, Slay’s opponent in March’s Democratic primary – St. Louis Board of Aldermen President Lewis Reed – received one donation ($14,320.81) over $10,000.

Since St. Louis has its own election board, it generally gets more leeway in setting its own campaign finance restrictions. The city already restricts candidates from taking contributions connected to gaming. And last year, the an ordinance was passed to require politically active nonprofits involved in city contests to disclose their donors.  

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