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Supreme Court declines 'Clean Missouri' case

Supreme Court declines 'Clean Missouri' case

September 25th, 2018 by Bob Watson in Missouri News

The Missouri Supreme Court at 207 W. High St. in Jefferson City.

Missourians will be voting Nov. 6 on the proposed "Clean Missouri" amendment to the state Constitution.

Missouri's Supreme Court said Monday it won't hear an appeal of Friday's appeals court ruling that placed the proposed constitutional amendment back on the general election ballot.

Without comment, the high court denied the request to transfer the case from the appeals court's Western District, leaving plaintiff Dan Mehan, president and CEO of the Missouri Chamber of Commerce and Industry, and the Missouri Republican Party voicing their unhappiness.

Mehan said, in a statement: "We have no further avenues to block this poorly drafted amendment before it appears on the Nov. 6 ballot.

"Missourians must now decide whether we should allow out-of-state activists to rewrite our Constitution, meddle with the balance of power in our Legislature and open the door to higher taxes and more regulation."

In a separate statement, Missouri GOP spokesman Chris Nuelle said, "The fight is far from over.

"Behind the sleek marketing and innocent name of Clean Missouri is an effort to slice up Missouri's legislative districts from rural to urban areas to satisfy a ridiculous fairness rule, which would certainly benefit Democrats."

One part of the Clean Missouri proposal would change the way state legislative districts are drawn, with supporters arguing the changes will reduce gerrymandering to favor one political party over another.

Sean Soendker Nicholson, who lead the initiative petition campaign placing the issue on the ballot, was pleased with Monday's decision.

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"This legal fight to defend your voice — and the signatures of more than 300,000 Missourians who put Amendment 1 on the ballot — is over," he said. "We won. This round.

"Here's what's next: Since the lobbyists' last-ditch lawsuit to keep Amendment 1 off the ballot didn't work, they're going to come out flailing this week, because they're terrified that Missourians like you will finally clean up the mess that is Missouri politics."

If Missourians pass the proposal six weeks from today, Nicholson said, "The Clean Missouri amendment will: Eliminate almost all lobbyist gifts in the General Assembly; require that legislative records be open to the public; lower campaign contribution limits for state legislative candidates; require politicians to wait two years if they want to become lobbyists; (and) ensure that neither political party is given an unfair advantage when new maps are drawn after the next census."

On Sept. 13, Cole County Circuit Judge Dan Green ordered the amendment removed from the ballot, saying the proposal violated the Missouri Constitution's requirement that proposed changes involve only one subject, and the Clean Missouri plan "relate to at least two different and extremely broad purposes."

However, a three-judge panel of the appeals court's Kansas City-based district last Friday overturned Green's ruling, saying: "We conclude that the Petition's multiple provisions all relate to a single central purpose: regulating the legislature to limit the influence of partisan or other special interests."

Noting the Clean Missouri proposal has support from "Republican, Democratic and Independent reformers from across the state," Nicholson asked for donations to help promote the amendment in the weeks before the election.

"We're counting on you now to help keep up the momentum, because the big money is going to start flowing now to finance more lies and misinformation on the airwaves," he said.

One of the proposals requirements is that it would require candidates to be more open about where their campaign donations are coming from, by prohibiting them from accepting contributions from any federal political action committee, unless the committee has filed the same financial disclosure reports as Missouri PACs.

And, Nuelle countered: "Clean Missouri is receiving an unbelievable amount of 'dark money' donations, effectively invalidating their 'clean' name.

"The Missouri Republican Party will be leading efforts to inform voters of the true intentions of Clean Missouri in order to defeat the initiative at the ballot box in November."

Mehan said, "Despite the wave of dark money being spent in support of Amendment 1, we will work to unmask this effort and educate voters about its true intent. Amendment 1 isn't designed to clean Missouri — it will fleece us."