JEFFERSON CITY—Yesterday evening, Senator Rob Schaaf (R-St. Joseph) introduced Senate Bill 1113, a bill that would address the growing problem of secret, unaccountable money in Missouri politics.
Missouri law requires political committees registered with the Missouri Ethics Commission to publicly disclose the sources and amounts of all contributions they receive in excess of $100 per contributor per election. However, corporations that are not registered as political committees are allowed to accept and spend contributions unlimited in amount without ever disclosing their contributors’ identities to the public. Because of this, wealthy individuals and corporations are able to use shell corporations to conceal their identities from voters while spending massive amounts of money supporting their favorite candidates and ballot measures.
Senate Bill 1113 would require that the ultimate sources of funds used to make large independent expenditures be publicly disclosed. Under the measure:
- Individuals who spend more than $2,000 per two-year election cycle funding independent expenditures would be required to report that spending.
- Organizations that spend more than $2,000 per two-year election cycle funding independent expenditures would be required to report not only that spending but also the identities of and amounts contributed by all individuals and organizations from whom they received more than $300 in contributions.
- Organizations filing such reports would also be required to disclose the names of their owners, partners, board members, and officers, or their equivalents, as well as those of any organizations from whom they reported receiving contributions.
- As under current law, all reports of independent expenditures would be required to identify the candidate(s) or ballot measure(s) supported.
In a statement, Sen. Schaaf said, “Voters overwhelmingly support disclosure of the ultimate sources of political spending, and for good reason. Without disclosure, voters don’t have the opportunity to spot instances in which politicians receive kickbacks from the special interests they help out while in office. Without disclosure, we can’t even verify that those spending money in our elections are American. And without disclosure, independent spenders are free to engage in dishonest, negative campaigning without any concern that such behavior might affect their reputations. Voters should have the right to know who is trying to influence them with large independent expenditures, and SB 1113 would give them that right.”
The full text of SB 1113 can be found by clicking here or visiting www.senate.mo.gov/16info/pdf-bill/intro/SB1113.pdf.