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Anti-abortion group seeks to restore campaign donation limits in Missouri

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: The anti-abortion group, Missouri Roundtable for Life, has filed an initiative petition that – if approved for circulation – would ask Missouri voters in 2014 to restore campaign donation limits, which had been in place for 14 years in the state.

Such a move appears to put the conservative group on the same side as Gov. Jay Nixon, a Democrat who supports reproductive rights and who has long sought to restore campaign donation limits.

In 2008, the General Assembly and Gov. Matt Blunt, a Republican, eliminated campaign donation limits; the limits had been in place since 1995, following voter approval in 1994.

The roundtable’s proposal, filed Friday with the secretary of state’s office, proposes donation limits of $2,600 an election for candidates for statewide office, legislative seats or elective judicial posts. Such a limit is higher than those in place when the limits were abolished in 2008.

The proposal also would bar money transfers between campaign committees – also sought by Nixon and his allies – and would impose donation limits on the political parties, which would be restricted to contributions of no more than $25,000 an election.

The initiative is a proposed constitutional amendment, which means the roundtable would have to collect signatures from registered voters "equal to eight (8) percent of the total votes cast in the 2012 governor's election from six of the state's eight congressional districts," according to the secretary of state's office.

Sources say that the secretary of state's office has raised technical concerns about the wording of the roundtable's proposal and may ask it to resubmit the proposed initiative.

The roundtable's president, Fred Sauer, who made an unsuccessful GOP bid for governor in 2012, said in a statement that his group was venturing into the campaign-donation fight because “unlimited campaign contributions are corrupting politicians and creating the appearance of corruption in Jefferson City.”

“We need to restore political campaign contribution limits so that politicians represent Missouri citizens and not special interest groups,” Sauer said.

His group did not return the Beacon’s call seeking further explanation.

Jo Mannies is a freelance journalist and former political reporter at St. Louis Public Radio.