National Law Review: “The New Year brings with it new laws governing campaign finance, lobbying, and ethics. Below we highlight some of the major state and federal laws that took effect on or around January 1. This is not intended to be an exhaustive list, but highlights some of the most significant changes that are new for 2015. In addition to the new laws outlined below, many state legislative sessions are starting up. Some states prohibit campaign finance activity during the session, so proceed with caution.”
Seven Days; “The panel will be charged with investigating complaints of ethical violations committed by House members and will be empowered to recommend disciplinary actions to the body as a whole. The five-member committee will also oversee the creation of a new, online database disclosing members’ employment and board service.”
“Ethical issues loomed large last year after retired Wall Street banker Bruce Lisman and the advocacy group he founded, Campaign for Vermont, proposed a far-reaching set of recommendations for increased disclosure within state government. In response, Smith appointed Sweaney, who chairs the House Committee on Government Operations, to lead a group studying the House’s policies.”
News Observer: “Senate Democratic Leader Dan Blue and House Democratic Leader Larry Hall of Durham said legislation would be introduced to ban outside earned income, including deferred compensation, for elected state officials, and require more detailed disclosure of financial interests, similar to federal reporting requirements.”
Sedalia News Journal (1/5): “Secretary of State Jason Kander today announced legislation to overhaul Missouri’s worst-in-the-nation ethics, lobbying and campaign finance laws. The comprehensive approach is contained in a series of bills filed on Kander’s behalf by Representatives Kevin McManus (D-Kansas City), Randy Dunn (D-Kansas City), Tracy McCreery (D-Olivette) and Jon Carpenter (D-Gladstone).
“Provisions in the bills include campaign contribution limits, a ban on lobbyist gifts to elected officials and their staff, improvements in transparency, mandatory ethics training for state officials, an end to the legislator-to-lobbyist revolving door, whistleblower protections for individuals reporting wrongdoing and stiffer criminal penalties for obstructing ethics investigations.”
“Current Missouri law allows politicians to accept both unlimited campaign contributions and unlimited lobbyist gifts. Kander’s plan would prohibit politicians from collecting six-figure donations and free sports tickets. It would also put an end to the political money laundering practice of a campaign receiving contributions from a political action committee that is funded primarily by one person who has already reached his or her contribution limit by creating the presumption that a law has been broken. It places the burden on the politician to prove otherwise.
Columbia Tribune: “The bill filed Tuesday by Rowden would ban gifts, bar legislators from working as lobbyists for two years after they leave office and prevent them from soliciting lobbying jobs while in office. It also would require subcontracting lobbyists hired by principal lobbyists to disclose the actual client being served and make it illegal for the governor to offer jobs in exchange for votes on legislation. He addresses campaign finance issues by requiring that legislators and statewide elected officials disclose donations greater than $500 within 48 hours during legislative sessions. Rowden’s proposal would control anonymous campaign funding by not-for-profit companies by requiring any not-for-profit that spends more than 25 percent of its budget on politics to disclose all of its donors. The seven bills filed today, four by Rowden and three by Rep. Jay Barnes, R-Jefferson City, cover many of the same issues but do not include a ban on lobbying gifts. Instead, Barnes filed bills for faster and more detailed reporting.”
Ozarks First: Attorney General Chris “Koster was pointed in his response to the article, and the formation of that committee in response to it. Speaking about the 5-Hour energy investigation, Koster said, ‘To assert that this is the type of case that Missouri should be prosecuting is just silly. Back when I was a Republican we would have considered a lawsuit of this kind to be frivolous and abusive to Missouri’s business community, but today the Speaker has convened a House investigative hearing to inquire as to why this case was never brought.’
“He challenged the legislature to lower from $5,000 to $2,500 the amount of a donation which must be reported within 48-hours, to ban of lobbyist gifts to public officials, and to have lawmakers refuse contributions from entities with bills pending in the legislature during the session and for 90 days after a session’s end.
‘Koster also urged that 501(c)(4)s – nonprofit, so-called ‘social welfare” groups who under tax law must spend less than half of their money on politics – be required to register with the Missouri Ethics Commission 90 days before an election or be disallowed from advertising, and be required to fully disclose all contributions received in the previous four years or disclose the names of their top three donors in all advertising.”
Columbia Tribune: “In October, the Kansas City Star reported House Speaker Tim Jones, House Majority Leader John Diehl and three other lawmakers were treated to a $3,000 meal Aug. 1 while attending an American Legislative Exchange Council meeting in Dallas. Seven lobbyists who split the bill reported the meal as being provided to the ‘entire General Assembly’ while five others reported it was provided to the lawmakers who actually attended.”
“Later that month, the New York Times, in an investigation of lobbying influence on state attorneys general, reported Koster dropped an investigation of deceptive advertising practices by the makers of 5-Hour Energy drink after being lobbied at a meeting of the Democratic Attorneys General Association in Santa Monica, Calif.
“Senate Majority Leader Ron Richard of Joplin, in the only bill he has filed for the upcoming session, addresses issues raised in those reports. His bill would bar out-of-state travel and entertainment paid for by lobbyists and would require invitations 48 hours in advance for any meal or entertainment reported as being provided to the full House, Senate or both.
“Other provisions in Richard’s bill would bar lawmakers from hiring colleagues as political consultants and make retiring lawmakers wait two years before taking a job as a lobbyist.”