The proposed Clean Missouri amendment to Missouri's Constitution should be removed from the November ballot, a lawsuit filed last week argued, because it violates state law and the Constitution's requirements in numerous ways.
Jefferson City lawyer Chuck Hatfield, representing the Clean Missouri campaign organization and Sean Soendker Nicholson, its deputy treasurer, this week asked Cole County Circuit Judge Pat Joyce to let his clients intervene in the case, saying they "have a substantial interest in the subject of this case and those interests are consistent with the required interests to permit intervention as a matter of right."
On Aug. 2, Secretary of State Jay Ashcroft certified the Clean Missouri petition, and four others, as meeting the legal and constitutional requirements for being placed on the Nov. 6 ballot.
But the 21-page lawsuit — filed a few hours after Ashcroft's certification, by Eddie Greim of the Graves Garrett law firm in Kansas City — asked the Cole County Circuit Court to order Ashcroft to keep the proposal off the ballot, because the proposed amendment violates the constitutional requirement that it change only one section of the Constitution.
Greim argued the Clean Missouri proposal "makes at least 21 different amendments to the Constitution."
The lawsuit noted Nicholson — whom Greim described as a "Democratic operative" — in November 2016 submitted 16 different initiative petition proposals that "contained various provisions but (had) a common thread."
And, the lawsuit said, that common point in the various amendment proposals was to "radically change how Missouri redraws state legislative districts during reapportionment," by requiring an unelected state demographer to draw districts instead of following the current constitutional and statutory procedures.
But, Greim wrote: "Unwilling to present this redistricting proposal to Missouri voters on its own merits, Nicholson surrounded it with numerous other proposed changes to Missouri's Constitution, including but not limited to" creating:
New campaign finance regulations;
A repeal and replacement of certain campaign contribution limits;
Limits on lobbyist gifts;
"A so-called 'revolving door' ban on legislators" and their legislative staff from lobbying at the state or local level for two years after the expiration of their term of office;
A ban on political fundraising on any state property by candidates for, or members of, the state Legislature; and
A requirement that legislative records be subject to Missouri's Sunshine Law.
The lawsuit asked the court to keep the Clean Missouri proposal off of November's ballot, because "Missouri's Constitution and statutes contain longstanding and commonsense mandates against an initiative petition that concerns multiple subjects, amends multiple articles, or fails to set forth the full and correct text of the amendment."
The lawsuit continued: "Nicholson's quest to redraw Missouri's legislative districts violates each of these mandates (and) must be rejected as an unconstitutional abuse of the initiative."
Most of the suit cited details of where the petition proposal ignored, or failed to observe, those legal requirements.
The lawsuit also argued parts of the Clean Missouri proposal violate existing provisions of the Missouri and U.S. Constitutions, including the federal First Amendment right to free speech "by banning political fundraising by members of or candidates for legislative office" on any property owned or controlled by the state or its agencies, and "making any purposeful violation of such ban a crime subject to imprisonment and a fine."
No hearings have been scheduled yet in the case.