A petition filed Monday in Cole County Circuit Court charges Secretary of State Robin Carnahan and State Auditor Susan Montee with playing politics in an effort to damage the chances of a proposed constitutional amendment.
The petition, filed by Missouri Roundtable for Life, a group that is strongly opposed to the use of human stem cells in scientific research, claims Ms. Carnahan completely changed the proposed ballot language to mislead voters and that Ms. Montee went out of her way to find people who would say the amendment would have a negative fiscal impact on the state.
The proposed ballot language read, "In any fiscal year, the first $200 million disbursed from the Life Sciences Research Trust Fund (LSRTF) be spent on primary healthcare for low-income Missourians, provided, however, that no such funds shall be expended on abortion services, human cloning, or prohibited human research."
By the time, Ms. Carnahan and her staff were finished with the ballot language, it was hard to recognize, the petition indicates. The finished version, which was submitted to Attorney General Chris Koster, eliminated any reference to abortion or human cloning, terms that would make the proposal attractive to a large number of Missourians. The new ballot language read, "Shall the Missouri Constitution be amended to reduce the amount of money available by $200 million to improve the quality of life science research in Missouri and redirect this money solely to pay for certain primary health care for low-income Missourians?"
The petition alleges Ms. Montee provided a misleading fiscal impact statement claiming severe damage could be done to the state, when, in fact, the proposed amendment does not mandate that any money be spent.
The initiative petition is being "manipulated,' the petition says, "so as to mislead and confuse Missouri voters and to create prejudice against a proposed constitutional amendment."
Missouri law requires that ballot language not be worded in such a way that it appears to be for or against a proposed amendment.