In 2018, a liberal special interest group called Clean Missouri pulled the wool over the eyes of Missouri voters. It coaxed voters into passing an amendment under the guise of ethics reform.
The Clean Missouri Political Action Committee flooded the state with dark money from out-of-state millionaires and other like-minded interest groups. The PAC’s campaign two years ago made a conscious effort to bury a hyperpartisan redistricting fiasco behind popular and appropriate reform to lobbyist contributions and campaign finance.
Prior to Clean Missouri bamboozling Missourians, two bipartisan redistricting committees were appointed by the governor. The Senate Redistricting Committee consisted of five members chosen by Democrats and five members chosen by Republicans. Similarly, the House Redistricting Committee consisted of one member from each congressional district chosen by both parties for a total of 16 commissioners. If those commissions could not come to an agreement, the Supreme Court appointed a team of appellate judges to draw the districts. The only criteria that these committees were required to follow were that the districts must be equal in population, contiguous and compact.
This system often resulted in necessary compromises that left both parties adequately satisfied and the people of Missouri appropriately represented in consistent and logical districts.
The most clearly detrimental outcome of the 2018 referendum for Clean Missouri was to create a nonpartisan state demographer to gerrymander House, Senate and congressional district lines with one-sided partisan goals in mind. If Amendment 3 fails, this demographer will be selected by the state’s lone Democrat statewide officeholder, Auditor Nicole Galloway. Making this the responsibility of the state auditor has no connection to her official duties and is a clearly biased attempt to rig the system to benefit the shrinking Democrat voting bloc in our state.
Under Clean Missouri, the districts drawn by the state demographer must first be equal in population, as already required by law. They should not marginalize minority communities, again already a requirement by law. The map of districts should promote “partisan fairness and competitiveness,” which takes precedence over additional requirements of the districts being contiguous, following political subdivisions such as cities and counties, and being compact in form.
Our House districts in Southwest Missouri average roughly 70% Republican voters across the board. If the priority is to create parity and competition in each and every district, our House and Senate lines will take on bizarre, incongruous shapes — pulling tendrils of Democrat voters from Springfield, Kansas City, Columbia, and St. Louis.
Clean Missouri does not have your best interest at heart. This liberal-run special-interest group exists solely to defeat the popularly elected conservative supermajority that we, the voters, have elected in Missouri. This PAC wants to rob us of our voice and influence in Southwest Missouri and to amplify the effects that St. Louis and Kansas City have on the rest of the state.
Advocates for Clean Missouri claim that Missouri conservatives are attempting to pull a fast one on Missourians and undo the will of the people through misleading language. The truth is that Clean Missouri pulled a fast one on Missourians two years ago to the detriment of our residents, and it is now time for Missourians to stand up, be informed and vote "yes" on Amendment 3.
Will Lynch is Newton County prosecuting attorney.