Senator Crowell makes the excellent point that we need to keep the revolving door between the Missouri Legislature and the Lobby Hiring Office locked tight. But, it seems to me, with the Billions of Dollars being spent on lobbying, that it would be chump change for a Business / Union / Group to keep a former Legislator on the payroll for two years.
To cleanly close the door between Lobbying and Legislating, the number of years between the two jobs should be at least 10. Citizen-Legislators should have plenty of time being a Citizen before going back to lobbying the General Assembly.
But, this is a good start:
Pass Ethics Reform Now
Holding Politicians Accountable
Politicians work for you, to represent your interests, not their own. But far too often a few politicians use their position to be self-serving and forget to make decisions based on what is best for you. The special session this past fall put on full display how lobbyists and special interests, through campaign donations, are controlling politicians more and more. In my opinion, two key bills need to be passed in order to stop this abuse and make politicians more accountable to you, the voter.
Missouri had an ethics law passed in 2010, but, this past month, the Missouri Supreme Court struck it down because of the process by which it was passed. Among the key provisions in the bill struck down was banning the laundering of donations through campaign committees, publicly reporting contributions of $500 or more within 48 hours of receiving them, and important enforcement abilities for the Missouri Ethics Commission to ensure politicians comply with all campaign finance rules.
The court’s ruling makes it imperative that the General Assembly acts quickly to ensure campaign donations are transparent. Senate Bill 826 contains the exact same ethics provisions passed in 2010 minus the issues the Missouri Supreme Court said made the bill unconstitutional. By passing this bill, campaign contributions would be made in the open so Missouri voters are able to hold politicians accountable for the campaign contributions they receive.
In like manner, when voters approved term limits, they made it clear that they did not want legislators making a career out of their service at the Capitol. Each legislator has the honor to serve as a citizen-legislator for their district; however, the current system provides some legislators with the opportunity to land high-paying jobs as soon as their term is complete. The General Assembly should not be a revolving door between public service and lobbying. This has the potential to lead to a conflict of interest as the governor or special interests may trade these high-paying jobs for votes.
Senate Bill 851 would prevent legislators from being able to take a job as a lobbyist or in the executive branch for two years after they leave office. This provides an important cooling off period between the time a person serves in the Legislature and the time they take a high six-figure job lobbying their former colleagues. It also ensures that during their time in the General Assembly, legislators are serving your best interest, not trading their actions for future employment. If you are going to be the boss of the politicians, instead of the special interests, now is the time to enact these key ethics reforms.
Holding office should be an act of public service and not a springboard to lining one’s own pockets. As lawmakers, we are entrusted to make the best decisions for you and must be focused on doing what is right, not on who has contributed money or promised a future high paying job. If you are to have confidence in your elected officials then it is time to pass these two bills.
As always, I appreciate hearing your comments, opinions, and concerns. Please feel free to contact me in Jefferson City at (573) 751-2459. You may write to me at Jason Crowell; Missouri Senate; State Capitol; Jefferson City, MO 65101, or email me at: email@example.com or visit me on the web at http://www.senate.mo.gov/crowell.