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MO: Legislature Removes Campaign Contribution Caps

Call it the "Show Me" the Money state. Missouri's legislature has sent a bill to Governor Matt Blunt (Blunt is under federal investigation -- his father, U.S. Rep. Roy Blunt also has ethical issues) to eliminate campaign finance caps on contributions from individuals (it would ban contributions from party committees to candidates, although party committees could continue to engage in independent expenditures). Ironically, the bill is being pushed as cleaning up the system. Legislators backing the measure argue that big contributions from party committees mask the real interests behind the donations, but that unlimited contributions combined with disclosure rules will clean up Missouri significantly. The average House candidate in Missouri spent $30,000 in 2004, with some spending almost $200,000 or $300,000. In the Senate, the figures approach $500,000 for some candidates with the average candidate spending $120,000. With the repeal of campaign finance caps, those numbers are sure to go up. If Missouri legislators are interested in real reform, they should follow the lead of Arizona and Maine and adopt public financing of elections -- voter-owned campaigns that allow candidates to run without turning to Big Money Interests for support.