Representatives Jason Kander (D-44) and Tim Flook (r-34) held a press conference late this morning in the House Lounge at the capitol after filing an ethics reform bill. There were approximately ten media representatives and five other individuals in attendance.
Representatives Jason Kander (D)(left) and Tim Flook (r)(right) at their press conference in the House Lounge at the capitol in Jefferson City.
The press release which was distributed at the press conference:
For Immediate Release
Dec. 14, 2009
Reps. Flook and Kander announce bipartisan ethics bill
New criminal provisions would fundamentally change Missouri politics
JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. – Reps Tim Flook and Jason kander today filed bipartisan ethics reform legislation to strengthen Missouri law to meet or exceed federal standards and empower state investigators and prosecutors to better pursue public corruption cases.
The bill would outlaw several practices that have become commonplace in Missouri politics. Flook, R-Liberty, and Kander, D-Kansas City, identified the potential for misdeeds as a major concern and cited the practice of laundering contributions through various political action committees as a vehicle for corruption. They argue that a mix of strong criminal penalties and greater transparency is needed…
…Both representatives emphasized the bipartisan nature of the legislation. “Corruption is a historically bipartisan problem so it’s long past time for a serious bipartisan solution,” Kander said.
“We recognize that this is an election year and that this issue can be politicized,” Flook said. “But we are committed to moving this forward in a bipartisan manner.”
Specific proposals within the bill include:
* Allowing only candidate committees to receive donations from other committees.
* Making it a felony to transfer funds through political committees with the intent of masking the original source of the money.
* Requiring all committees to file disclosure reports electronically and be subject to online searching.
* Clarifying existing law so that “pay to play” prohibitions include the exchange of campaign contributions for legislative action.
* Requiring all official staff who also are involved in political activities to file personal financial disclosures.
* Creating a “de facto lobbyist” category for consultants who are not currently covered by state lobbying disclosure laws and require registration.
* Creating the felony crime of “obstructing a Missouri Ethics Commission investigation.”
* Prohibiting individuals from serving as a treasurer or deputy treasurer of multiple committees.
* Applying new and existing ethics laws to all political subdivisions in the state.
“I’m tired of hearing legislators speculate about whether the FBI will clean up Jefferson City,” Flook said. “I believe Missouri’s law enforcement is up to the job as well.”
Rep. Kander argued that current laws are ineffective. “Everyone seems to feel that there are virtually no consequences for corrupt behavior, but we can pass this law and change that perception immediately,” Kander said.
We’ll have transcripts of the representatives’ statements and the question and answer session with the media in subsequent posts.