Ethics reform, a Missouri Alliance for Freedom priority, is on the fast track


Ethics reform, a Missouri Alliance for Freedom priority, is on the fast track

Ryan Johnson

Jefferson City, MO – Ryan Johnson, President of the Missouri Alliance for Freedom, today issued a statement on proposed ethics reform legislation.

“It is important for the Missouri Legislature to take action in an effort to correct several ongoing abuses. First it is time to close the revolving door of legislators cashing out to become lobbyists and then ban the practice of legislators accepting lobbyists’ gifts” said Ryan Johnson.

With last year’s legislative session ending in the resignation of former Speaker John Diehl for engaging in an inappropriate relationship with an intern followed by the resignation of Sen. Paul LeVota under similar circumstances the stage has been set for the General Assembly to take meaningful action on ethics.

“House Speaker Todd Richardson and Senate President Pro Tem Ron Richard have told Missouri Alliance for Freedom that ethics reform we can be proud of will be a priority this year. If we get the lobbyist gift ban, revolving door closure and the ‘Steve Tilley bill’ passed it will be a win for ethics this year.”

As the Missouri General Assembly got underway last Wednesday the new Speaker and Senate President Pro Tem have moved quickly to refer all ethics reform bills to committee where they are scheduled to be heard on Monday and Tuesday of this week. Insiders familiar the process are anticipating that ethics reform legislation will clear the House within the first three weeks the 2016 legislative session.

Missouri Alliance for Freedom is a Jefferson City based conservative policy advocacy group with a deep statewide grassroots presence. Missouri Freedom issues the annual legislative Missouri Scorecard designed to hold members of the state legislature accountable with their constituents.

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Ethics reform bills in the House:

HB1981 Sponsored by Justin Alferman bans lobbyist gifts to state public officials. No longer will legislators be allowed to accept gifts such as tickets to sporting events, steak dinners, or travel from registered lobbyists.

HB1574 Sponsored by Caleb Rowden has been called the Steve Tilley bill because it will require former candidates/legislators to dissolve their campaign committees if they want to become lobbyists.

Former Speaker Steve Tilley left office; registered as a lobbyist and doled out large campaign donations from his campaign account to his former colleagues while lobbying them on important issues.

If Rowden’s bill passes outgoing legislators will no longer be able to become lobbyists while maintaining large campaign war chests. Their accounts will have to be shuttered.

HB1979 Sponsored by Caleb Rowden has been called closing the revolving door. It is intended to stem the tide of legislators becoming lobbyists.

Actually Rowden’s bill will only impose a one year cooling off period before outgoing members of the Missouri Legislature, statewide elected officials, or appointees who required Senate confirmation can become lobbyists.

HB1983 Sponsored by Shamed Dogan will make it illegal for a member of the General Assembly or a statewide elected official from receiving compensation as a paid political consultant while still in office.

HB1998 Sponsored by Jay Barnes will disallow candidates from investing their campaign war chests.

Ethics reform legislation in the Senate:

SB643 as sponsored by Sen. Bob Onder tries to do it all. Onder’s bill (if successful) will ban lobbyist gifts, close the revolving door by making legislators sit out for two years before becoming lobbyists, requires public officials who register as lobbyists to close their campaign accounts, and discourages members of the General Assembly from accepting appointments to paid state boards or commissions before their terms end.