02/04/19 -- 0895H01.23H (Amendment HA2 to HB 445) -- Subjects local elected officials to gift ban and contribution limits

Bill Number: 
0895H01.23H (Amendment HA2 to HB 445)
Bill Purpose: 
Subjects local elected officials to gift ban and contribution limits
Date of Vote: 
02/04/19
My Vote: 
No
Explanation: 

HB 445 as originally written would prohibit all types of lobbyists from making any type of expenditure for local government officials, school board members, and other members of similar governing bodies.  In my opinion that is a somewhat unnecessary restriction - it would be a far better approach to simply require such lobbyist expenditures to be reportable to the Missouri Ethics Commission (as has long been required of similar expenses on state General Assembly members).  However the bill sponsor (Shamed Dogan, Republican - District 98) also offered amendment 0895H01.23H during perfection, which fundamentally changes what HB 445 does.

Amendment 0895H01.23H adds an additional provision to HB 445 which subjects local elected officials to a 2 year waiting period before they are allowed to register as a lobbyist after leaving office.  It also establishes campaign contribution limits of $2,000 per election to all local office campaigns.  I take issue with both of these provisions. 

While restricting what kind of activities an elected official may participate in during their term of office might be warranted, it's another thing altogether to ban them from entering a particular profession after their term has expired and they have left the government's payroll.  Such restrictions are overreaching, and in my opinion amount to unfair restraint of trade.

The campaign contribution limits are even more troubling. When one provides a donation to the campaign of a candidate for public office, they are exercising their freedom of speech by using their contribution to aid someone whose views they support.  A limit on such contributions is nothing more than a restriction on the freedom of speech.  Consider also that contribution limits do not apply to self-funded candidates, making it that much harder for the average person to run for office against a wealthy opponent.  For these reasons and more, I did not support Missouri Constitutional Amendments 2 (in 2016) or 1 (in 2018), both of which limited contributions to the campaigns of those in the General Assembly.  Similarly, I cannot in good conscience support contribution limits to those running for local office.

As a result of these issues, I voted no on this amendment.  It passed anyway, overwhelmingly.  You can view the roll call vote on this amendment here if you are interested.