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Three Democratic senators want all campaign finance contribution limits lifted:  Tim Green (Florissant), Chuck Graham (Columbia), and Chris Koster (Harrisonville).  Tim Green, in fact, introduced the amendment to lift the caps. 

Because Koster has taken a hundred thou from Rex Sinquefield, he’s also taking some political heat.  KMOX radio interviewed him about that question, and he stood firm for lifting the limits.  Here’s the interview if you want to hear it.  Republicans–and these three Democrats–like to muddy the waters with the old “we need transparency” canard.  Yes, we do, but throwing out all caps on contributions is throwing out the baby with the bathwater.

Just last week, I wrote about senator Joan Bray’s solution to the transparency in contributions problem.

“The public thinks we’re all controlled by money, and we don’t need to do anything more to make that reality or perception,” Bray said. “The public strongly likes the idea of contribution limits. It has expressed that in votes in the past. And we should respect and not resort to indulging ourselves in unlimited contributions.”

Bray argues for legislation that would control the proliferation of PACs and political committees. ….

Here’s an analogy:  If people are finding embezzling too easy to get away with, Republicans think it would be wise to make the embezzlement easy to spot … and legal.  They figure that if it’s easy to spot, the boss can fire the embezzler.  Democrats want to make the embezzlement more difficult to achieve … and illegal.

That’s a no-brainer.

A no-brainer indeed, unless you’re a legislator who prefers to sell yourself and sell the public out.

I’m not being hard on Koster here because he’s a former Republican.  We’re glad to have anybody from the other side who sees that Democratic ideas are better.  And Koster has charisma that would be put to better use promoting Democratic ideals than pushing Republican selfishness.  If he would promote Democratic principles.  But how much good does it do Democrats to have Koster switch parties if he still votes to get rid of campaign donation limits?

And by the way, Tim Green and Chuck Graham also need to repent their votes on this issue and push to limit PACs. 

Because that’s the solution:  limit each party to one PAC. 

Jim Trout, who sued over the no-cap-on-contributions law and won, has said that the old law had bugs in it, but that the no-cap solution was no solution. 

“Take the bugs out, but don’t use a Sherman Tank to do it,” he said in a PubDef interview last January.

What he means by “bugs” is that current law allows legislative committees to raise ten times as much money as any individual can give and there is no limit on how many legislative committees may be formed.  Everybody and his brother can have one.  Furthermore, as even Republicans correctly argue, those legislative committees are far less transparent than straight donations.

Trout would like to see two changes in election law.  First, each PARTY should be allowed one PAC, with a set amount of donations allowed.  That means two PACs in the state instead of dozens.  Second, the campaign limits need to be raised.  Inflation has taken a huge bite out of the limits passed a dozen years ago.  Stamps have gone up, and so has air time.

Senator Koster.  Senator Green.  Senator Graham.  C’mon now.  You know that solution would level the playing field so that ordinary voters would get a fair shake for a change.  Don’t you?

(Tim Green is pictured above and Chuck Graham is pictured below.)