JEFFERSON CITY — A proposed change in Missouri ethics laws will allow some companies to write checks directly to job applicants.
Just six years after former Governor Eric Greitens was investigated for using ‘shell companies’ to fund his campaign, the legislation would allow limited liability companies with specific tax status to donate money. money to politicians.
Under the plan, companies should have been in business for at least a year and should register with the Missouri Ethics Commission if they wish to contribute to applicants.
While these provisions may provide safeguards against embezzlement at election time, there is no provision in the law on exactly how regulators would ensure the companies are real and not just legal vessels to move black money into accounts. policies.
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The godfather, Sen. Andrew KoenigR-Manchester, acknowledged that there are potential ways to game the system.
“Obviously it’s not going to catch everyone,” Koenig said on Wednesday. “But it will create some transparency.”
The provision is included in a House bill that now awaits action from Gov. Mike Parson. A spokeswoman did not respond to a request for comment.
The package of legislation passed the Senate by a vote of 27 to 6 and was approved by the House 129 to 13.
The state’s proposed new law will align Missouri’s campaign finance rules more closely with the Federal Election Commission, which allows certain limited liability companies to contribute to candidates in federal elections.
Under FEC rules, an LLC must, at the time it makes a contribution, notify the recipient committee that it is eligible to make the contribution and if it is from a partnership, how much should be awarded to each contributor.
“This requirement will prevent the recipient committee from inadvertently accepting an illegal contribution,” the FEC said.
Koenig said the Missouri Ethics Commission allowed certain LLCs to contribute, but it was based on an interpretation of the law, not an actual, specific law.
“I think it brings some transparency and forces companies to stipulate that they’re not breaking the law,” Koenig said.
In 2018, a House committee investigating Greitens released two emails suggesting that the Greitens campaign was intended to conceal the identities of donors during his 2016 candidacy.
At issue are two companies — White Impala LLC and ELX83 LLC — which were formed in December 2015 and later donated $30,000 to Greitens for Missouri at the time.
“To all appearances, these two entities were created to channel contributions to the Greitens campaign from one or more anonymous donors,” reads a memorandum attached to one of the emails that is part of a opposition research paper ahead of the 2016 gubernatorial election.”Missouri Law explicitly prohibits campaign contributions made “in such a way as to conceal the identity of the actual source of the contribution”.
“Using this arrangement to hide donors certainly runs counter to Greitens’ repeated attacks on ‘corruption’ and ‘insider political games’ in Missouri,” the memo reads.
Greitens, who resigned two weeks later, is among 21 Republicans seeking the party’s nomination for the seat held by retiring U.S. Senator Roy Blunt.
In February 2020, Missouri ethics regulators fined his state campaign account $178,000 for violations dating back to Greitens’ 2016 campaign.
The Missouri Ethics Commission said the fine was tied to two black money groups that raised and spent money to advance Greitens’ political career.
Former Attorney General Josh Hawley, who is now a senator, also determined that Greitens may have committed a crime by taking his former charity’s donor list and using it for political fundraising without l permission of the charity. Greitens was charged with tampering with computer data, but the charges were dropped after he resigned.
The legislation is House Bill 2400.
Originally published 1:48 p.m. Wednesday, May 25.