MO Leg. Introduces Lobbying, Disclosure Reforms as Outside Groups Push Gift, Contribution Limits

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.”

Editorial: Part Time Work Worsens NJ Legislature’s Pay to Play Culture, Time to Make Full Time

Auburn Pub; “Despite all that, there’s a valid argument for saying that it may time to adjust state lawmaker base pay. They last got a raise in 1999, and if we’re looking to get the best and brightest people interested in this form of public service, it could be time for an adjustment.

‘With this chatter about a raise, there have also been suggestions about trade-offs. Legislators may get a raise if they agree to increase minimum wage or if they agree to adjust other state executive branch leadership salaries.

“We’re against such horse trading because there’s really a much more important compromise lawmakers should be making if they want greater paychecks from the taxpayers. They should be giving up their outside income and agree to make the job of state legislator officially a full-time job.

‘The much-maligned Moreland Commission that was created by Gov. Andrew Cuomo to explore government corruption did hit on at least one major problem with Albany. The conflicts created by the outside income elected lawmakers take in are a huge driver of the ‘pay to play’ culture in the state Capitol.

“The New York Public Interest Research Group did an analysis of financial disclosure forms and found that in 2012, state lawmakers had median income of $137,000 to $172,000. And many of the sources of that income had some form of business, direct or indirect, with the state.”

NJ State Senator Pushes Plan to Limit Contributions from Contractors, Local Parties

Politicker NJ: “Senator Tom Kean, R-21, has announced that pursuant to Senate Rule 12:6, he has filed a 24-hour notice to remove Senate Bill 287, which would limit campaign contributions by contractors and political parties, from the State Government Committee for a vote in the full Senate.”

“S-287 restricts contributions from public contractors, and county and municipal political party committees.”

How Fortune 500 Companies Fund, Drive Gerrymandering

Mother Jones: “In North Carolina, Pennsylvania, and Ohio, to name just three, GOPers have recast state and congressional districts to consolidate black voters into what the political pros call “majority-minority districts” to diminish the influence of these voters. North Carolina is an especially glaring example: GOP-redistricting after the 2010 elections led to half the state’s black population—1.1 million people—being corralled into one-fifth of the state legislative and congressional districts. “The districts here take us back to a day of segregation that most of us thought we’d moved away from,” State Sen. Dan Blue Jr., who was previously North Carolina’s first black House speaker, told the Nation in 2012.

A major driving force behind this political resegregation is the Republican State Leadership Committee, a deep-pocketed yet under-the-radar group that calls itself the “lead Republican redistricting organization.” The RSLC is funded largely by Fortune 500 corporations, including Reynolds American, Las Vegas Sands, Walmart, Devon Energy, Citigroup, AT&T, Pfizer, Altria Group, Honeywell International, Hewlett-Packard. Other heavyweight donors not on the Fortune 500 list include Koch Industries, Blue Cross Blue Shield, and the US Chamber of Commerce. At the same time these big-name firms underwrite the RSLC’s efforts to dilute the power of black voters, many of them preach the values of diversity and inclusion on their websites and in corporate reports.

As part of its Redistricting Majority Project—which, tellingly, is nicknamed REDMAP—the RSLC, starting in 2010, poured tens of millions of dollars into legislative races around the country to elect new GOP majorities. Next it provided money and expertise to state officials redrawing political boundary lines to favor the Republican Party—and to shrink the clout of blacks, Hispanics, and other traditionally Democratic voters. Unlike its Democratic equivalent, the RSLC has vast sums at its disposal, spending $30 million during the 2010 elections, $40 million in 2012, and $22 million in 2014.”