Comments sought on petition about lobbying, campaign funding

Kander seeks public input

Missourians have until Sunday to comment on a proposed constitutional amendment that, if approved by voters next year, would prohibit lawmakers and their employees from serving or registering as lobbyists for two years after the lawmaker leaves office — and would set campaign contribution limits.

Violating the two-year restriction would result in the lawmaker losing the legislative office and salary and could be punished with a prison sentence of up to four years and/or a $5,000 fine.

The proposed amendment would be circulated among voters as an initiative petition, if Secretary of State Jason Kander approves the proposal’s form, and after his office and the state auditor write ballot language and a fiscal note for the proposal.

Kander’s staff will consider any comments people make about the proposal in writing that language during the five days next week after the comment period closes.

Comments can be posted through a link on Kander’s website, at www.sos.mo.gov/elections/2014petitions/14init_pet_active.asp.

The petition and its complete text are available through the petition’s number-link on that page — 2014-054.

The petition was submitted by Brad Ketcher, a St. Louis area attorney who once served as Gov. Mel Carnahan’s chief of staff.

It only would change parts of Article III, which controls the General Assembly.

The proposed amendment also would limit an individual’s campaign contributions to $1,000 for state Senate candidates and $500 for House candidates.

It sets penalties for violating the limits — a $5,000 civil fine, plus an amount equal to the illegal contribution, for a first offense; and a criminal charge for more violations, that could result in a prison sentence up to four years as well as the $5,000 fine plus an amount equal to the illegal contribution.

And no fund raising activities could occur “on any premises, property, or building owned, leased or controlled by the House, Senate or General Assembly” — with a possible punishment of one year in jail and/or a fine up to $1,000 for violating the provision.

The amendment also would prohibit lawmakers and their employees from accepting “directly or indirectly a gift of any tangible or intangible item, service, or thing of value in excess of $5 from any lobbyist.”

And the amendment would make legislative records “public records … subject to generally applicable state laws governing public access to public records.”

If approved for circulation, supporters will have until 5 p.m. May 4, to gather registered voters’ signatures in six of Missouri’s eight congressional districts, equal to at least 8 percent of the total number of votes cast for governor in 2012.

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