The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

Opinion

December 13, 2013

Our View: Ethics reform needed

— Legislators running for office aren’t likely to be as outspoken as those who are exiting Missouri’s public arena.

That’s why we listen when some of those who are now outside of politics tell us that it has become far too big of a money game in Jefferson City and too many senators and representatives are no longer working for their constituents, unless of course they think their constituency is the guy with the biggest check.

It takes more and more money these days to run a campaign, and the pressure starts mounting the minute a lawmaker gets elected to office to start building a fund for the next election.

A bipartisan group of Missouri legislators is pledging to send a comprehensive ethics reform bill to the governor’s desk in the upcoming legislative session. That bill will include placing limits on campaign contributions to candidates.

Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon says Missouri’s ethics laws are among the weakest in the nation, and on Thursday, flanked by lawmakers from both parties, called upon the Legislature to look at ways to restore some of the campaign finance restrictions that were taken away in 2008.

Missouri has no campaign contribution limits, no lobbyist gift limits and no revolving-door policy that would prevent a lawmaker from becoming a lobbyist. It’s a trifecta of trouble.

Consider that Missouri has even weaker ethics laws than Washington, D.C., and ask yourself if that’s really what you want for your state.

If you, like us, believe that money shouldn’t be the be all, end all in deciding who will represent you in Jefferson City, we would urge you to discuss ethics reform with your representative or senator.

Stricter ethics laws will get rid of legislators who probably shouldn’t be in office in the first place and only serve to help people who run for public office because they want to make Missouri a better place to live.

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