Hulshof Unveils Ethics Reform Package
Six-point plan to restore confidence in state government
Kenny Hulshof unveiled a major policy initiative today dealing with ethics reform. Since announcing his candidacy for governor, Hulshof has made accountability and transparency central themes of his campaign. He followed through today with a specific six-point plan.
"Missourians want a state government that is open and accountable," Hulshof said. "The reforms in this package deliver the transparency that Missourians expect and deserve. If the people of this state are to have confidence in Jefferson City, it will take principled leadership and innovative ideas. These proposals are designed to accomplish just that."
Hulshof's six-point plan deals with the following areas:
1. Strengthening the Missouri Ethics Commission
2. Reforming the way license offices are awarded
3. Banning gifts to lawmakers and administration officials
4. Tightening disclosure rules and accountability measures
5. Campaign finance reforms
6. An Ethics Advisory Task Force to create additional reform proposals
"It is an honor to serve the people of Missouri," Hulshof concluded. "With that honor comes tremendous responsibility. We have a responsibility to open and honest. That is exactly how the Hulshof Administration will conduct its business every single day."
I. Strengthening the Missouri Ethics Commission
Make the MEC truly bipartisan: The governor will select three commissioners from a list of five nominees submitted by each major political party. There will be two equal Co-chairs, one from each party. This will prevent the controlling political party from tipping the scales in their favor. A congressional district will not have more than one member on the commission.
An independent MEC attorney. Currently, the MEC's counsel is the Attorney General. All appearance of partisanship would be removed by appointing a non-partisan attorney to represent the MEC.
Enhance the enforcement capabilities of the MEC. The current standard for criminal violations is to prove someone "purposely" violated the law. That is nearly impossible to prove. The standard should be changed to "knowingly violated" the law.
Increase fines for violations.
II. License Fee offices
* End the patronage system that awards fee offices based upon political support
* Instead award offices based upon an open and objective point system. Points would be awarded for efficiency, customer service, charitable considerations and other objective criteria set forth by the Office of Administration and Department of Revenue
* Bids will be made public
III. Gift Ban
* Ban all job-related gifts to Administration officials
* Propose legislation banning gifts to all elected and appointed officials. Exceptions as follows:
+ Non-profit entities
+ Non lobbyist-employing entities
+ Allowances for receptions and other widely-attended events and de minimis gifts.
IV. Disclosure and Accountability
* Second Injury Fund (SIF) payouts to both claimants and their attorneys will be disclosed on the Missouri Accountability Portal.
* Attorneys representing plaintiffs in SIF cases shall not be allowed to donate campaign funds to candidates for Attorney General.
* Require web access to annual personal financial disclosures of legislators, judges and statewide elected officials.
* Require statewide elected officials to disclose memberships or assets in industries they directly regulate or oversee.
* Prohibit elected officials from serving on the Missouri Housing Development Commission
V. Campaign Finance Reforms
* Establish a $2500 donation limit per election, per candidate, indexed to inflation.
* Require the Missouri Ethics Commission to create a sortable database of all donors to each candidate committee. Information will include donor names, occupation/employer data, city, state and zip code.
* A "Millionaire's Exemption": If any candidate chooses to self-finance, a declaration shall be filed with the Secretary of State. Donation limits will be raised for all opponents in the following manner:
+ Personal loans of $250,000 - $499,999 = contribution limits $5,000 per election per candidate
+ Personal loans of $500,000 - $999,999 = contribution limits of $10,000 per election per candidate
+ Personal loans of $1 million or more = elimination of contribution limits
* Eliminate party committee pass-throughs
VI. Governor's Ethics Advisory Task Force
* Governor will appoint a nine-member task force that will create a sweeping set of ethics reform proposals by 7/1/09.
* The task force will hold regional public hearings throughout Missouri.
* The task force will be charged with, but not limited to, addressing the following topics:
+ Lobbying reform
+ Travel by elected officials
+ Use of state resources
+ Political activity by governmental employees
+ Continuing committee activity
+ Other areas, as directed by the governor
The task force report will be developed into ethics reform legislation by January 1, 2010.