Missouri voters deserve a say on campaign donation limits

08/14/2013 2:59 PM

08/18/2013 5:57 PM

Here’s a recap of an embarrassment that should unite Democrats and Republicans toward a fix:

“Rex Sinquefield has donated more than $25 million to various Missouri politicians and campaigns over the last five years. And he’s heading to court to make sure that can continue.”

That was the beginning of a front page story this week. It’s the latest chapter in an egregious situation that somehow never seems to get much traction in the public consciousness.

Missouri is the only state with no limits on campaign donations and gifts to lobbyists. The legislature created this assault on voters in 2008.

Now, St. Louis businessman Sinquefield has filed a lawsuit to keep Missourians from having the opportunity to vote on restoring limits. One of his arguments is that limits would undercut his free speech.

Hey, Rex, how about the free speech of those with less money, like the average voter?

This outlier status of Missouri makes a mockery of our elections. The proposed ballot language would let voters decide if the state constitution should be amended to cap donations at $2,600 per election in statewide and legislative races.

Stop if you feel a tinge to knee-jerk with platitudes of support for Sinquefield by assuming that he supports conservative causes. Ditto if your perspective is fueled by a grudge against any initiative funded by Sinquefield.

The issue is campaign contributions, the lack of transparency in our state. It undercuts the rights of voters no matter what their political inclinations. Besides, Sinquefield co-founded the libertarian-leaning Show-Me-Institute.

Sinquefield in this instance is facing down some of his compatriots, the conservative group Missouri Roundtable for Life, which has backed anti-abortion and anti-stem-cell measures.

And that is a pertinent point. In this case, it is a conservative cause that sees how no limits has hurt their issues, so they are pressing for the ballot proposal. In other times, it will be liberal issues, or an issue between right/left leanings.

This is the perfect scenario to illustrate the situation.

Given recent U.S. Supreme Court rulings, the existence of other ways to anonymously donate large amounts, the ballot proposal is merely a baby step toward a wide range of necessary reforms.

But it is one Missourians deserve a chance to vote on. One man shouldn’t be able to buy off this election.

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