Government & Politics

Campaign contributions limit amendment to appear on Missouri ballot

Fred Sauer, a longtime anti-abortion advocate and businessman from the St. Louis suburbs, has been pushing for campaign contribution limits to be reinstated in Missouri for years.
Fred Sauer, a longtime anti-abortion advocate and businessman from the St. Louis suburbs, has been pushing for campaign contribution limits to be reinstated in Missouri for years.

Missouri voters will decide in November whether to reinstate campaign contribution limits that were repealed by lawmakers nearly a decade ago.

The Missouri Supreme Court has refused to hear a challenge of a proposed contribution limits amendment to the state constitution, closing the door on legal efforts to knock the idea off the statewide ballot.

The man bankrolling the effort to put contribution limits before voters is Fred Sauer, a longtime anti-abortion advocate and businessman from the St. Louis suburbs who has been floating the idea for years. He has poured millions of his own fortune into the effort, including through a PAC called Returning Government to the People.

In a statement Monday afternoon, Sauer celebrated the state Supreme Court’s decision. He called the proposed constitutional amendment “a fair and reasonable answer to the growing problem of wealthy elites using huge campaign contributions to unduly influence political candidates and parties.”

“Missouri voters,” Sauer said, “have the right to choose whether to enact such commonsense limitations to eradicate the plague of corruption from Jefferson City.”

The measure would cap donations to candidates at $2,600 per election and to political parties at $25,000. It also would impose other campaign finance restrictions aimed at preventing political committees from obscuring the source of their money.

In November 1994, 74 percent of Missouri voters approved a ballot measure limiting contributions to state candidates. The Republican-led General Assembly repealed contribution limits in 2008, which at the time stood at $1,350 for statewide candidates, $675 for Senate candidates and $325 for House candidates.

In 2006, Sauer helped found Missouri Roundtable for Life, which tried to block a constitutional amendment protecting most forms of stem cell research. Missouri voters narrowly approved the amendment, thanks in large part to $25 million in donations from James E. Stowers Jr. and Virginia G. Stowers, founders of the Stowers Institute for Medical Research in Kansas City.

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