Why doesn’t Missouri already have these basic ethics laws?

File this one under “Obvious, Captain.”: Missourians overwhelmingly support tougher ethics laws for public officials, according to a new poll.

Ethics rules are some of the least discussed (but most critical) aspects of a strong, robust campaign finance system. When elected officials are truly beholden to the people they represent instead of special interests who may try to influence our leaders with campaign cash, gifts or the promise of a lucrative job, democracy works better. That’s why many of the ideas in this poll were included in our Blueprints for Democracy project.

Here’s the money-in-politics reforms Missourians support:

  • Gift ban: 73 percent strongly support a ban on gifts from lobbyists to public officials. From the public’s perspective, these gifts represent a perceived (if not actual) corruption. South Carolina passed their “Not Even a Cup of Coffee” law for just this reason — as you might guess, lobbyists are banned from contributing money or gifts of any kind ever, even a piping mug of joe.
  • Revolving door: The second most popular proposal was to prevent public officials from taking jobs with interests they regulated — called the revolving door. Missouri is one of the few states without revolving door regulations even though 61 percent strong support such a ban.
  • Contribution limits: 75 percent support limits on how much donors can give to a single campaign.

State Rep. Caleb Rowden (R-Columbia)’s bill to close the revolving door for one year is the only one likely to pass the state House.

We’ll keep you updated on the progress of that bill, and any others moving in the states to ensure politicians remain responsive to the American people.