As a candidate for office in the Missouri legislature, I, ________________________, respect the oath of office to which elected representatives swear or affirm.
I therefore pledge – if elected to the General Assembly – not to accept gifts of any size from registered lobbyists, lobbying organizations, or others with a vested interest in the performance of my duties for the duration of my service as a legislator in the state of Missouri.
Late last year, MoReform announced the creation of the “Missouri Gift-Ban Pledge.” This is a pledge aimed at current office holders in the Missouri General Assembly. Signees pledge to not accept gifts from lobbyists that have a vested interest in the performance of the lawmaker’s duties in the legislature.
As of right now, only two Missouri lawmakers have signed the pledge. Two.
There are two pieces of encouraging news. First, there are bills currently being debated in the General Assembly that look to either ban or regulate lobbyist gift-giving. 35 states already do this. Missouri is one of only 15 with an “anything goes” policy with respect to lobbyist largess.
Just as encouraging has been the support shown by members of the public AND Missouri lawmakers in the goal of our pledge. Though only two current office holders have signed the pledge, many more have supported MoReform’s efforts – at least in theory. But for various reasons, they have still refused to sign this pledge.
Public support for this pledge and for legislation regulating lobbyist gift-giving has been strong! And some of the most vocal public support that we’ve received has come from those seeking CANDIDACY in the Missouri legislature! There appears to be a critical mass of office seekers that support MoReform’s efforts and understand the need to significantly (radically?) change the lawmaker/lobbyist dynamic.
Many of these challengers also apparently see the need to repair the relationship between legislator and citizen. Perception of what goes on in the halls of the capitol is bad. Challengers appear to understand this better than incumbents.
The current pledge is designed for sitting legislators. Therefore, MoReform has decided to create a new pledge – this time, for CANDIDATES for political office.
As with the pledge designed for those already elected, note the emphasis on the lawmaker oath of office. This is the oath every Missouri legislator has taken since 1875:
“I do solemnly swear, or affirm, that I will support the Constitution of the United States and of the state of Missouri, and faithfully perform the duties of my office, and that I will not knowingly receive, directly or indirectly, any money or other valuable thing for the performance or nonperformance of any act or duty pertaining to my office, other than the compensation allowed by law.” (emphasis added). Art. III. Section 15 Missouri Constitution.
MoReform thinks it’s important to remind everyone about this oath; to remind everyone that even in 1875 there was a concern that legislators would fall victim to those trying to buy influence with “valuable things.”
They may not have had World Series tickets or golf junkets in mind in 1875, but they still understood the corrupting influence of those looking to build cozy relationships with our public servants.
This is why signees of both pledges are asked to pledge support for this oath to God. We are asking current – and now future – office holders to return the legislature back to the terms of this oath.
If you are a candidate for office in the Missouri legislature, we’d appreciate your support for this pledge. Just let us know and we’ll add your name to the list. If you know of anyone running for office in the General Assembly, please pass this information on to them.
And if a candidate for office – be they incumbent or challenger – has not signed this pledge, ask them why.
As always, we thank the public for their support. MoReform is not doing this for itself – we’re doing this for the people of Missouri.