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House District 59 candidates look at ethics through rural lenses

House District 59 candidates look at ethics through rural lenses

October 28th, 2018 by Joe Gamm in Local News

Both candidates for the Missouri House District 59 seat look at ethics from the farmland's perspective.

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Rudy Veit, the Republican from Wardsville, and Linda Ellen Greeson, the Democrat from Eldon, are running for the seat held by Mike Bernskoetter, R-Jefferson City. Because of term limits, Bernskoetter can't run for re-election; instead, he's running for a state Senate seat.

The state has to do something about the "dark money" pouring into campaigns, Greeson said. Dark money refers to funds donated to nonprofit organizations, which in turn donate to campaigns. The organizations are not required to disclose their donors.

"You're not able to trace back to see who is putting the money into a particular race," Greeson said. "This has just gotten out of hand with the amount of money being spent on campaigns."

Although it likely won't affect dark money, Amendment 1, an initiative known as Clean Missouri that will appear on the Nov. 6 ballot, is intended to make state government more transparent, limit the power of big money in the Legislature and hold legislators accountable.

"I'll be voting yes on Amendment 1," Greeson said. "I know people have complaints about it, but it's going to be a step in the right direction."

There are already restraints on both the state and federal level in terms of how much people may give to campaigns, Veit said.

People need to read the entire initiative carefully, he said. It sets up new standards for how district boundaries are drawn.

"We have a standard right now that says the district should be compact and contiguous," Veit said. "We don't follow that rule as closely as we should, probably. That doesn't mean it's not the right rule. It just means we don't follow it."

The state should probably be "a little more neutral" in drafting continuous and compact districts, he said. He added a compact area should not "have a run that's 20 miles down a river to pick up certain voters."

Greeson said she would like to see the districts give people from each party an equal opportunity to win an election.

That's nearly impossible because some areas are more conservative and some areas are more liberal, Veit said. However, the "vast majority" of people are in the middle, he added.

It's hard to pass laws regulating conduct and ethics, Veit warned. Years ago, when he was studying for the ethics exam with the Missouri Bar, he received some advice from a senior partner that stuck.

"My senior partner said, 'There's a simple rule: If it smells bad, it is,'" Veit said.

People are concerned about where some of the money for campaigns comes from, he added. And the candidates certainly need to be open.

"You have to keep in mind — you have to have a certain amount of contributions to an election or you're going to limit who can run for office," Veit said.

Too many limitations may leave only the wealthy running, he said.

Greeson said she's been raised to know the difference between right and wrong.

"You do this because it's the right thing to do," she said, "or you don't because it would be wrong."

District 59 includes a portion of eastern Jefferson City, most of Cole County and a portion of northern Miller County.