Dave Spence, Republican candidate for governor, today announced a comprehensive ethics reform package to open up, clean up and straighten up state government. The Spence plan is designed to make Missouri state government more accountable to the people and end the current crooked pay-to-play politics in Missouri government. His reform package includes strengthening campaign finance, lobbying, and Sunshine laws.
“Missourians deserve a government free from corruption that is focused on doing the people’s business. Lax laws have led to conflicts of interest, state contracts for sale, and a blatant disregard of citizens’ access to public records,” said Spence. “When I am governor, I will choose people over politics and make sure that Missouri has a more open and accountable government than ever before. Citizens pay for government. It should be open for the people to inspect. Openness is the enemy of corruption.”
Spence’s plan includes:
Limiting Lobbyist Influence
Capping at $25 annually all gifts, meals, travel, lodging or other expenditures by lobbyists for elected officials, staff, or any Missouri state employee. There is simply no reason for lobbyists to have unlimited spending power on meals or gifts intended to gain influence on anyone working for Missouri taxpayers.
Closing the Revolving Door
Ending the “revolving door” by instituting a cooling off period from the time someone serves as an elected official to the time they can become a lobbyist. People shouldn’t be in government making policy decisions only to leave their job and immediately go to work as a lobbyist for a company they helped. This ban would apply to all gubernatorial appointees in paid positions as well as statewide elected officials and lawmakers.
Ending Bid Rigging
Disclosing all campaign contributions by any company (including its officers, directors and owners) bidding for or applying for any taxpayer funded project. These disclosures should be part of the bidding or application process and include contributions made in the last three years to Missouri elected officials, candidates, state-based committees or national committees that support Missouri candidates.
Establishing a blackout period on political contributions from any entity participating in a competitive bid process or applying for any tax credit during the bid or application process. We should also have a ban on contributions from companies who obtain taxpayer-funded projects for one year after the project is awarded.
Increasing Contribution Transparency
Increasing transparency by instituting a ban on any committee-to-committee transfer or other form of contribution that conceals the identity of a donor. For example, a company who received a taxpayer funded contract or tax credit could not contribute to a committee that then contributes to a candidate with decision-making authority over that contract or tax credit. It would be the responsibility of all committees, candidates and contributors to ensure that no contributor has received a state contract or tax credit during the blackout period and that the laws are strictly adhered to.
Creating and enforcing significant penalties for people who violate our campaign finance laws. This requires giving meaningful authority for the Missouri Ethics Commission to investigate and penalize people who break the law.
Requiring disclosures for 501(c)(4) organizations that spend money in our state on state issues and races. With unlimited campaign contributions, disclosure is critically important. Requiring these types of organizations to follow the same disclosure laws other organizations must follow makes perfect sense and will prevent people from hiding the source of donors.
Limits on Investing Campaign Funds
Restricting the types of investments that committees can make with their contributions. Investing in a certificate of deposit is understandable, but speculative investments that allow a candidate or committee to derive any other benefit should be prohibited. We need to revise our laws to make clear that committees can only “invest” contributions in neutral holdings such as certificates of deposit or interest bearing accounts – nothing more.
Stronger Sunshine Laws
Ensuring Missouri’s Sunshine Laws provide transparency and accountability. We need stronger penalties for governmental actors who willfully violate the law. Too many elected officials and government bodies deny properly requested records by claiming exorbitant fees to produce requested records. We also need to shift the burden of responsibility to the government to prove that records are exempt from disclosure. Laws such as those in Texas that place the burden on the government to prove that records are closed should be enacted. People should not have to sue in court to ensure access to public records.
Reduce Influence Peddling
Reducing influence peddling by removing statewide elected officials from the Missouri Housing and Development Commission and the Missouri Development Finance Board. There are plenty of competent and qualified Missourians who can serve on these boards and make independent and thoughtful decisions on behalf of the taxpayers. This would end the practice of statewide elected officials handing out favors like political candy. These boards need to develop stringent conflict of interest policies to ensure that everyone serving is disinterested and stands to gain no personal benefit from decisions that are rendered.
Please visit www.spenceforgovernor.com for future announcements and more information about the campaign.