by J Scott Christianson, Columbia Daily Tribune Columnist
I wish someone had told me that there was no such office as Boone County dogcatcher before I wrote last week’s column. I mean, what am I going to do with 5,000 “Christianson for Dogcatcher” signs? Yes, I know you can turn them inside out and make garage sale signs out of them, but you can only have so many garage sales in your life!
All kidding aside, when you step back and look at the state of campaign financing, it seems like something that could only have been designed by a comedian.
And the current state of campaign financing would be funny — if it weren’t so sad. This summer our own Missouri Ethics Commission could have replaced “jumbo shrimp” as an example of an oxymoron on Wikipedia after it held a secret meeting — in direct violation of the open records law — to determine how to deal with the Missouri Supreme Court’s reinstatement of campaign contribution limits.
After being sued by the Missouri Republican Party for their breach of ethics and the law, commission members had a “do over” meeting to discuss the issue again. But this time, they couldn’t come to a decision so they decided to take time to develop a “natural” process to figure out how to make a decision. I am not making this up.
The ethics commission was not sufficiently acquainted with the issues of campaign financing to be able to make an informed decision on the matter even when considering it for a second time. Instead, as commission Executive Director Robert Connor put it, “They said, ‘We’re going to go down and come up with a natural process that works correctly in their mind.”
Good luck with that.
So candidates who raised money during the time of unlimited contributions have been left in financial limbo. Some have returned over-limit contributions; others have not. Those who have returned money are at least having a great time attacking those who haven’t. It helps them pass the time until the election 13 months from now.
Meanwhile, Rex Sinquefield, one of the state’s biggest campaign contributors, decided he had had enough with laundering his contributions through local political committees to get around the maximum legal contribution limit of $2,550 to a statewide candidate by an individual per election cycle. So Sinquefield established more than 100 political action committees, or PACs, enabling him to quickly…