The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

Local News

March 16, 2014

Susan Redden: Richard offers support to local representatives

JOPLIN, Mo. — State Sen. Ron Richard threw down the gauntlet on Friday on behalf of the Joplin area delegation in the House of Representatives.

Richard, R-Joplin, and state Reps. Tom Flanigan, Carthage; Bill Lant, Pineville; Charlie Davis, Webb City; Bill White, Joplin; Bill Reiboldt, Neosho; and Mike Kelley, Lamar, were speakers at an “eggs and issues” brunch put on by the Webb City Area Chamber of Commerce.

The local lawmakers always emphasize their close working relationship with one another and with Richard in the Senate.

Richard repeated that theme, then told the crowd that he had “the backs” of the local representatives, come election time.

“We work really well together, and they’re all running for re-election,” he said. “If anybody’s dumb enough to run against them, I’ll bring my resources to bear to get them re-elected.”

Richard’s resources are considerable. He’s always been known as a prodigious fundraiser. Since he runs from a safe seat in Republican-dominated Southwest Missouri, he can, and does, spread around his campaign funds among Republican candidates locally and in other parts of the state.

Richard also is running for re-election — for his last term in the Senate, because of term limits. So far, no one from either party has signed up to run against the senator or any of the local representatives. Filing ends March 25.

Richard, who is Senate majority leader, said the Senate has started work on new ethics reform legislation. Other measures have been proposed with the backing of Secretary of State Jason Kander. Missouri hasn’t had any limits on campaign contributions for several years, and efforts to impose them haven’t gotten far.

A Missouri group’s attempt to put some contribution limits before voters in November got a boost last week. A Missouri Court of Appeals upheld the fiscal note and other elements of the proposal being backed by the Missouri Roundtable for Life.

The group’s proposal had been challenged by Rex Sinquefield, who has donated millions to Missouri candidates and causes, mostly in favor of anti-tax measures.

Sinquefield’s suit to stop the initiative was upheld by a circuit court, but the decision was reversed on appeal.

The Roundtable for Life has proposed an initiative to limit campaign donations by individuals to any candidate to $2,600 per election cycle, limit donations by individuals to political parties to $25,000 per election cycle, and limit donations by political parties to other campaign committees by $25,000 per cycle. The measure also would ban donations by corporations or unions directly to candidates or elected officials, while still allowing corporations or unions to set up political action committees to support or oppose candidates.

Fred Sauer, president of the Roundtable for Life, said the lack of campaign contribution limits allows Missouri’s leaders to be chosen “by wealthy elites.”

“Our system of government cannot survive when a privileged few are the ones deciding what happens in Jefferson City with our tax dollars,” he said.

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