Thursday, May 14, 2015

Cashing in on termed out: Ron Richards’ non-reform bill - St. Louis Business Journal

Cashing in on termed out: Ron Richards’ non-reform bill - St. Louis Business Journal

Cashing in on termed out: Ron Richards’ non-reform bill

Dave Drebes

Last month Jeff Grisamore registered
to be a lobbyist in Jefferson City. Weeks earlier, Grisamore was a state
representative. But as the new legislators were sworn in, Grisamore was
termed limited out, so he decided to lobby
. Grisamore isn't alone. He
was the sixth member of his class to register to lobby.

This is known as the
"revolving door." The public frowns on the practice because it appears
that the legislators are cashing in on their public service as they
pursue a potentially lucrative career lobbying.
There are bills in both
the House and the Senate aiming to change the laws with regard to
legislative ethics. Floor Leader Ron Richard sponsored the first ethics
bill. It was passed out of the Senate earlier this week. It is an
embarrassingly weak bill
. With regard to the revolving door, it would
create a two-year waiting period during which legislators couldn't
lobby. But inexplicably the law would only affect legislators who are
sworn in after January 2017.
In other words, none of the current
legislators would have to play by this rule. It's an ethical concern for
those who come after them, not for themselves.


That's just one
aspect of the non-reformism of Richard's bill. Currently, Missouri has
no campaign contribution limits. The voters passed limits in 1994, but
the Legislature quickly overruled that vote.
The no-limits system once
seemed excessive, but has now veered into the absurd. Earlier this year,
Rex Sinquefield wrote a $1 million check to Bev Randles for her
lieutenant governor campaign's exploratory committee
. Democrats have
insisted that campaign contributions should be part of any ethics reform
package. But Republicans note that when there were limits, it didn't
stop the huge checks. It just split them into pieces and re-routed them.
Sinquefield, for example, started scores of different PACs when there
were campaign limits to accommodate his giving. The Republican solution
has been transparency. As long as voters can find out who is giving and
receiving, they can judge for themselves if they want to re-elect those

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