Guest Commentary

Guest commentary: It’s time to get Big Money out of Missouri politics

We’ve all heard about draining the swamp and ending the rigged system. But the problem isn’t just in Washington, D.C. — it’s in Jefferson City, as well. And there aren’t enough politicians with the integrity and the spine to fix this crisis in Missouri’s Capitol.

Gov. Eric Greitens, who campaigned on a promise to institute sweeping ethics reforms, has instead jumped neck deep into the swamp with the creation of a phony “social welfare organization.” It will raise unlimited money without disclosing its donors. Its sole purpose is to advocate — by spending big money to influence politicians — in support of the governor’s agenda.

Missouri desperately needs a fair, functional government. In a system that’s swarming with corrupt politicians and lobbyists, it’s no wonder Missouri families are left behind. With elected leaders failing to act, only citizens can make this happen. The first step is a vote for the Clean Missouri initiative in the November 2018 election.

We need this initiative because politicians are at the center of the problem. They are bought and paid for by the special interests, and they have created loopholes in campaign finance laws so their big money allies can spend unlimited money to get them elected. And they are doing it in sketchy, secretive ways.

Right now, in Missouri, mega-donors can create an unlimited number of politically active groups, each with the sole purpose of funneling money to one candidate. This rigged system allows politicians to get around campaign contribution limits.

Worse, these lawmakers receive over $800,000 in gifts from lobbyists each year and frequently skip right out the revolving door for a big payday as a lobbyist when their time in public office ends.

This doesn’t create the good government that we deserve.

In this environment, it’s no surprise that the legislature has once again failed to pass commonsense reforms. As a result, the millionaires and special interests who are filling the airwaves and internet with negative political ads can stay anonymous. Greitens’ antics are just the latest in a string of failures and deceptions.

Missouri’s leaders haven’t gotten the job done. Now, everyone else must come together to return power to where it rightfully belongs: with the people.

Starting Wednesday, May 17, reformers from all parties and all parts of Missouri united to launch the Clean Missouri initiative. It’s carefully designed to limit the influence of big money in state elections, close off the loopholes that let politicians and millionaires rig the system to help one another, and stop special interests and lobbyists from buying off legislators.

Whatever party we come from, I hope we can agree that this is good for Missouri and for democracy. Passing the Clean Missouri initiative will help make sure that our politicians are working for the people, not for special interests or millionaires.

The flooding politics has drowned out the voices of everyone who can’t afford to spend hundreds of thousands of dollars to persuade politicians. Once we reform our laws to clamp down on this flow of big money, those politicians will have no choice but to listen to us, the way they’re supposed to.

Passing the Clean Missouri initiative is how we’ll get our democracy back on the road to health. It will be a big step toward a fair, transparent government. End Citizens United and our 48,000 Missouri members are proud to endorse Clean Missouri. Let’s join together to fix Missouri and set an example for the rest of America.

Tiffany Muller is the executive director of End Citizens United, an organization dedicated to ending dark money in politics. She is from Amoret, Mo.