(St.Joseph,MO) During his final week in the legislature, Missouri Senator Robert Schaaf is putting the last of his clout behind an anti-corruption initiative he expects to see on the November ballot.
The group Clean Missouri has obtained over 340,000 petition signatures calling for an ethics reform initiative to be placed on the November ballot.
"I think it's a slam dunk for the people of Missouri. People are really sick and tired of seeing the special interest drive the legislative agenda, instead of the interest of the people. Clean Missouri will be a good start in cleaning up that corruption," Schaaf said.
If the initiative passes, it would put restrictions on gifts given to politicians from lobbyists and enforce a cooling-off period on politicians wanting to become lobbyists at the end of their term.
"[It] will eliminate gifts to lobbyists over $5; will shut the revolving door so that legislators and their staff won't be able to get jobs as lobbyists for two years after leaving the legislature," Schaaf said.
Schaaf’s push for Clean Missouri is also getting help from the local group Conservatives Against Corruption, a group formerly known as the St. Joseph Tea Party Patriots.
Virginia Weigum said she has been working with the Tea Party Patriots for the last decade and is now working to rebrand the organization to fight political corruption and to make the sources of political money more transparent.
"If I know who is donating money, it will help me discern as to how I vote,” Weigum said. “I want them to know that we don't want them to act on special interest. We want them to vote according to the constituents."
Weigum said the group’s main focus will be on eliminating the influence of special interest groups and political corruption.
"We have found it on every level of government and we really have to stop it, it does not serve our best interest," Weigum said.
Clean Missouri is one of six ballot initiatives awaiting approval from Secretary of State John Ashcroft. If all signatures on the petition can be verified, the initiative will be placed on the November ballot.
Conservatives Against Corruption will host a screening of the documentary Big Money Agenda: Democracy on the Brink on May 21, at 7 p.m. at the Rolling Hills Library. The group will also be hosting a candidates forum for candidates in northwestern Missouri running for Senate District 34 and House Districts 9,10 and 11. The forum will be at the St. Joseph Public Library on June 7 at 7 p.m.