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Clean Missouri Initiative Aims to Stop "Corruption" in State Government

Two local lawmakers were in St. Joseph on Thursday pushing for an initiative that would, if passed, work to "clean up" Jefferson City politics.

Posted: Apr 6, 2018 8:49 AM
Updated: Apr 6, 2018 10:50 AM

(ST. JOSEPH, Mo.) Two local lawmakers were in St. Joseph on Thursday pushing for an initiative that would, if passed, work to "clean up" Jefferson City politics.

Sen. Rob Schaaf, (R) St. Joseph, and Rep. Galen Higdon, (R) St. Joseph, stopped by East Hills Library to talk about the Clean Missouri initiative petition.

Schaaf said the initiative would put Missourians before big donors, lobbyists and partisan politics.

"I would say that it's experiences with big money, special interests coming to the legislator trying to sort of buy their legislation, and we've seen evidence of that several times," Schaaf said.

Clean Missouri would eliminate all lobbyist gifts to lawmakers that go over $5, require that politicians wait two years after leaving office to become a lobbyist and lower campaign contributions for state legislative candidates ($2,500 for state senate and $2,000 for state house).

Rep. Higdon said he stands behind the initiative because of his own experiences in Jefferson City.

"I found out that some of the former house leaders were leaving with millions of dollars, and I'm like you know what that's just wrong. I didn't come down here to get rich," Higdon said.

The legislation would also stop legislative fundraising on state property, require that legislative records be open to the public and ensure that neither political party is given an unfair advantage when new maps are drawn after the next census.

"So, we had a Right to Work initiative. Do I think Right to Work is right for Missouri? I think that there's a good possibility that what they want to do is right," Higdon said. "In my district, 60 percent said no, so I had to vote no. I get a phone call that tells me that for $35,000...you change your vote. That's just wrong."

Show Me Integrity, a coalition from around the state that consists of organizations and individuals who are pressing for anti-corruption reform in Missouri, has been working to gather signatures for the Clean Missouri Initiative.

According to a representative from the coalition, they have been gathering these signatures for roughly a year.

"You want to have your laws that your legislature pass represent the wishes of the people, but that's not what really happens in the legislature," Schaaf said.

However, Schaaf hopes Clean Missouri would help fix that issue. 

"I'm a republican, and the republican party is pushing this bill," Schaaf said. "All the democrats are opposed to it."

Schaaf said the Clean Missouri bill should be on the ballot in November.

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