Entering his final legislative session in office, Gov. Jay Nixon on Tuesday declared that the time had finally come for Missouri lawmakers to pass meaningful legislative ethics reform.
“No more excuses. No more symbolic gestures or halfhearted attempts,” said Nixon, a Democrat. “These problems are real, and they are undermining the confidence of the public in the government it relies on.”
Republican legislative leaders have long said ethics reform sits atop their agenda for the 2016 session, which begins Wednesday. Nixon applauded the sentiment but said it is meaningless without action.
“Just talking about it isn’t going to get a passing grade,” he said.
For Nixon, meaningful ethics reform includes:
▪ Restoring campaign contribution limits.
▪ Banning gifts from lobbyists to elected officials.
▪ Banning officeholders from hiring their fellow legislators as political consultants.
▪ Closing the revolving door that allows legislators to become lobbyists immediately after leaving office.
▪ Placing limitations on campaign accounts of former officeholders.
▪ Shortening the legislative session.
“This is something the public has heard about for a lot of years, and especially since the last legislative session ended in quite a bit of turmoil,” Nixon said, referring to the resignation of former Speaker John Diehl after his relationship with a 19-year-old House intern was revealed by The Star.
Nixon specifically pointed to campaign contribution limits, an idea he defended in front of the U.S. Supreme Court when he was serving as Missouri attorney general.
“I understand there is going to be money spent in politics. I’ve been around it for 29 years,” he said. “But the average person walking down the street just can’t process how someone running for state House or state Senate, or even statewide, can get these huge checks and it doesn’t affect anything.”