Thanks to Jason Rosenbaum with the Columbia Tribune's political blog for noting my post on Governor Matt Blunt's decision not to take advantage of a two-day window to receive unlimited campaign donations.
I noted that it was easy for the governor to ask other candidates not to raise money since he has nearly $2 million in his campaign coffers. The new campaign finance law is going to be a disaster for the state and is damaging to any hope for candidates mounting primary or general election challenges.
Under the new law, candidates cannot raise money while the state legislature is in session from January through mid-May. While elected officials are in constant touch with the lobbyists and special interests who donate the lion's share of the money as part of their regular business during the General Assembly and can easily be ready to line up donations once the session ended, primary challengers will have less than three months to raise money.
Another hallmark of the new bill, according to its proponents is the openness it adds to the process. At the present time, hundreds of thousands of dollars in campaign contributions are being legally laundered (at least it appears that way) through a seemingly never-ending series of county and district committees, that kind of fundraising will be outlawed under the new law. So far, so good. This is change that is long overdue.
The big problem is the decision to throw out campaign contributions limits, which Missourians have shown that they clearly want in favor of unlimited contributions with more reporting.
This is a formula for disaster. The extra money will pay for the television commercials that are now the chief source of election information for a high percentage of Missourians. They will also enable those who do not have serious races to pour their money into campaigns of those who do have challenges. Unfortunately, television has never been a medium for any serious study of campaign contributions, so most people will never have any idea of the source of the candidates' money.
That might be somewhat offset if the print media was doing its job and looking into campaign contributions. It happens, but not on a consistent basis, and too often, the only examination is into how much each candidate has in the bank and not into where that money comes from and how it ties in with candidates' positions and votes.
The new campaign finance law is truly an incumbent protection law if ever one has been enacted.