The Buzz

Missouri state Sen. Rob Schaaf pushes comprehensive ethics measure


Now here’s an ethics bill that appears to have some real teeth in it.

And that may be why it appears to be going nowhere, at least this session.

Missouri state Sen. Rob Schaaf, a St. Joseph Republican, is pushing a bill that’s picked up at least some support from all corners of the political spectrum. In addition, he said the measure adds some muscle to the state Ethics Commission, a reform that many observers say is long overdue.

Schaaf notes that lawmakers have worked on an ethics measure this session. But, he said, that bill doesn’t go nearly far enough.

Among other things, the measure Schaaf is pushing would provide for a three-year “cooling off” period between the time a lawmakers leaves the General Assembly and starts lobbying. It would provide donation limits of different amounts for candidates for the state House, Senate and statewide office. And it would stop corporations, LLCs, labor organizations, cooperative associations and mutual associations from making contributions or expenditures for any candidate or committee.

Missouri, remember, is the only state in the country that allows unlimited campaign contributions, no limits on gifts from lobbyists and no restrictions against state lawmakers going into lobbying as soon as they leave public office.

Schaaf’s goal: to get the measure on the ballot next year. Voters, insiders predict, would adopt it. The session ends May 15.