Apr 18

Candidate Gift-Ban Pledge

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.

Jun 24

Shhh! The Worst $candals are the Silent Ones…

News involving the word “scandal” will provide you with over 2.6 million hits under Google.  Okay, sure, not all of it involves the Obama administration, D.C, or even the United States.  But if you’ve been paying attention these days you know it’s the “Summer-of-Scandal.”

One of the more disturbing of the national scandals involves the IRS picking on conservative groups.  Though it looks like it stops with IRS administrators, it’s still an outrageous occurrence.  Profiling anyone or any group for any reason demands suspicion.  And when it involves potential government harassment of political or ideological groups everyone should take notice.  That’s standard-operating-procedure in banana-republics.  But it should never be tolerated in the United States.

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Jun 13

Why We Should Care About the Mischief of Goodies

It’s almost become a rite of spring that the St. Louis Post-Dispatch brings forth an article soon after the close of the legislative session detailing the abundance of lobbyist gifts on Missouri legislators.  Such articles practically write themselves thanks to public disclosure rules via the Missouri Ethics Commission.  Comb through the database. Underscore some of the more outrageous gift giving.  Move on.

Oh, some readers might get upset, but not enough.  Most have grown accustomed to the idea that perks and goodies will end up in the hands of our representatives. It’s part of the process.  It’s always been there and it isn’t going away.  Most depressing, however, is the idea that so many of us have convinced ourselves that since it’s so engrained, it probably isn’t that big of a deal.

It is.  Here’s why:

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May 31

A Broken System: Two National Efforts Look for a Fix

Confidence in the political system is at all-time lows.  Disgust in Congress is at all-time highs and scandal grips the executive branch. Grim times for those that still care in America. But real efforts at fundamental reform exist! Yes, we’re talking national, organized, and well-funded efforts that go beyond the snake-oil being sold by the major political parties.

If you haven’t already, take a look at NoLabels.org and Rootstrikers.org.

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May 26

“It’s not healthy”

If you want cleaner political campaigns, these are dark days.  And they are only getting darker.  Oozing onto the darkness is section 501(c)4 of the tax code that theoretically sets up civic leagues (that sounds nice) and non-profit corporations to help promote “social welfare.”  Ooooo, that sounds swell!  Here’s the kicker: they’ve become havens for political donors to SECRETLY donate big bucks to political campaigns!

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Mar 28

Remember Shame?

Gordon Gekko in the famous movie Wall Street said, “Greed is good.”  As with greed, humans are saddled with shame on occasion.   But that’s not always a bad thing.  Like greed, I suppose, sometimes “shame is good.”  Shame keeps us from doing bad/sleezy things.  But increasingly, we’re seeing people carry on as if shame is no longer in their internal equations.  Nowhere is this more true than in politics.  Let’s look at some recent Show-Me examples:

St. Louis County Executive Charlie Dooley, fresh off his push for a “code of ethics” among County employees, finds no shame in hiring the son of his former chief of staff, John Temporiti.   Despite the County’s supposed “hiring freeze”, 27-year old Mike Temporiti landed a $70,000 job with the county.  Should Mr. Dooley feel shame?  Ah, the shameful-devil appears in the shameful-details:

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Nov 10

Show-Me Reality for Missouri Democrats: Embrace Political Reform or Die

Missouri Democrats are shell-shocked.  They’ve been knocked out by a GOP tidal wave.  Inevitably after such a loss, parties assess the damage, wring their hands, point fingers, make excuses, then proceed – usually upon the same path that led them to defeat.

Nationally, that’s what the defeated Republicans started to do after the 2008 Obama-led Democratic victory.   But instead of wandering in the political wilderness for a long period, they quickly found direction with the “Tea Party.”

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Oct 30

Charlie Dooley and His Sugar Daddy

 

American elections are dependent upon private money. We all get that. It’s an addiction – nay, an obsession – that won’t be broken anytime soon. But that doesn’t mean we should forget about our responsibility to keep track of the money that flows into the pockets of candidates.
 
Charlie Dooley has some overflowing pockets these days. But the interesting thing is that his chief contributor – nay, his chief sponsor – is one particular individual: Gagillionaire Rex Sinquefield.