© 2024 St. Louis Public Radio
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

Report: Campaign Finance Laws Worrisome

Sean Sandefur/St. Louis Public Radio.


All of the money given by small donors in the 2012 presidential race was matched by only 32 billionaires and corporations, according to a report released Thursday by MoPIRG, the Missouri Public Interest and Research Group.

It was the first major election since the Supreme Court’s controversial Citizens United decision that allowed an unlimited amount of money to be spent by so-called Super PACs, often without disclosing where the money is coming from.

Democratic Missouri Representative Rory Ellinger from University City is the vice chair of the House Ethics Committee.

“Under the federal law, people do have the right to give large amounts of money," Ellinger said. "Well, legislators are always going to be influenced by donations.”

On the state level, Missouri is one of just a few states without campaign contribution limits to candidates, making it one of the most lax systems in the nation.

Ellinger has introduced a bill that would do a couple things: limit what a politician can do with leftover campaign cash and prohibit a lawmaker from immediately becoming a lobbyist after leaving his or her post.

“This happens from Republicans and Democrats – you spend 8 years in the legislature, and then you immediately become a lobbyist," he said. "And I think that’s way too close to influence the way you vote.”

The bill wouldn’t address contribution limits, which Ellinger says stand very little chance of changing anytime soon. Republicans are working on their own ethics proposal, which Ellinger says would be a step in the right direction.

Follow Chris McDaniel on Twitter@csmcdaniel

  • See more stories on politics and policy from St. Louis Public Radio, the St. Louis Beacon and Nine Network of Public Media at BeyondNovember.org.