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Who wants the hot potato?  The Missouri Supreme Court and the Ethics Commission are blistering their fingers trying to get rid of the job of ruling on who has to return excess campaign contributions.

Political Eye describes the judges’ quandary:

According to an expert in Missouri law and politics, the only thing that can explain this week’s Missouri Supreme Court ruling on campaign donation limits is a cowardly fear on the part of the court’s Democratic judges that they will be branded “activists.”

“I can’t think of one reason Jay Nixon or Matt Blunt should not have to return their money,” the expert said. “The Democrats on the court are just walking on eggshells in not deciding the issue for fear it will make them look like activist judges and that will be used against them later.”

Meanwhile, Ethics commissioners, trying to disguise their case of the jimjams, are pretending they never said that all the money should be refunded.  (Their take on it:  And even if we did–which we didn’t–we wouldn’t want to be left holding the bag.)

A month ago, Jay Nixon, speaking as the lawyer for the Commission, said that “the Ethics Commission’s position is that all candidates have to return over-the-limit contributions unless they can prove ‘undue hardship.'”  None of the commissioners argued with that statement–until the hot potato landed on their bare thighs earlier this week.  Now Conner is saying that the Commission “never voted” on the question.  And Legan said “he was shocked that the Supreme Court passed the refund issue onto ethics commissioners.”

You don’t suppose Matt Blunt has been putting any illegal pressure on those commissioners, do you?  Cause their knees are hammering out a rhythm.

If nobody has the balls to make Blunt give much of his three mill back, there’ll be hell to pay, says Political Eye.  Their anonymous expert explains:

“Now it’s possible some candidates will be found in hardship and keep their money, and some won’t and will have to return it. And those candidates who pay back will sue that this is unreasonable. And those cases will be back in the Supreme Court, like a Ping-Pong ball.”

Fired Up!, meanwhile, is hinting that Blunt is so determined to keep the cash that he’s looking to find an “activist” federal judge to overturn the Missouri Supreme Court decision.  Consider that claim in the rumor category, but, given Blunt’s ethically-challenged record, don’t discount it altogether, either.

Perhaps I’m being too hard on the governor, however.  After all, the executive director of the Missouri Republican Party, Jared Craighead, (or Jarhead as Political Eye dubbed him) sounds very reasonable:

“We sincerely hope that the Missouri Ethics Commission will take the people, and not politics, into consideration when deciding the fairest way to apply the law the people’s representatives enacted.”

That statement is only reasonable, though, until you remember that it was the Republican legislature that overturned the campaign finance limits that “the people” had voted on.

State Republicans aren’t any whit more ethical than the federal species.  They’ll say or do whatever serves their purposes at the moment.

photo courtesy of Fired Up!