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Monday, July 05, 2004

Missouri's Campaign Finance Law Was Designed to be Broken
Associated Press writer David Lieb has a good story here detailing how a bunch of New York City lawyers are getting around the law in Missouri to give big bucks to Governor Bob Holden.

The basic trick is that political parties can set up committees that have much higher limits on what they can accept than candidates do. So, a fat cat who has maxed out their giving to a candidate then just gives money to a party committee who then passes it along to the candidate. Surprise, surprise, there are now some 290 political party committees set up to do just that.

You might think this is yet more proof that campaign finance laws don't work. But, you'd be wrong.

The history here that's important to know is that Missouri's current campaign finance laws were written by politicians in an effort to fend off a grassroots citizens ballot initiative that applied the same tough limits to candidates, parties, and political action committees. The politicians crafted a law that looked tough, but really wasn't. The citizen initiative went forward anyhow, but it was thrown out by lower courts so the legislature's law went into effect. The Supreme Court eventually issued a ruling that would have re-instated the citizen law, but it had been out of effect for too long so now the current bogus law remains.

No wonder people have found a way around it.

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