- Associated Press - Thursday, January 25, 2018

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) - A proposed ballot measure that would change how legislative districts are drawn in Missouri is attracting large donations, which is drawing criticism from the Missouri Republican Party.

A group called Clean Missouri is collecting signatures to put a constitutional amendment on the ballot that would ban all lobbyist gifts to legislators larger than $5; require legislators and their staffs to wait two years after they leave the Capitol before becoming lobbyists; and rework how legislative districts are drawn, The Kansas City Star reported .

The campaign recently received $250,000 from a St. Louis-based political action committee and $300,000 from the lobbying arm of liberal billionaire George Soros’ philanthropic network.

Sam Cooper, executive director of the Missouri Republican Party, said the provision that would reform legislative redistricting is a Democratic effort to improve the party’s chances in elections, after several years of GOP victories.

“Under the guise of ‘Clean Missouri,’ they’ve accepted hundreds of thousands of dollars from George Soros in order to rewrite the Missouri Constitution in an attempt to disenfranchise Missouri voters,” Cooper said. “I wish I could say I was surprised, but after years of getting their tails kicked at the ballot box, I guess using Soros money to redraw legislative districts is the only chance they have of winning.”

The $250,000 donation came from MOVE Ballot Fund, a political action committee connected to a nonprofit with the same name. The $300,000 was from the Open Society Policy Center, the lobbying arm of Soros’ philanthropic network. MOVE reported raising only $100 before that donation.

Under the proposal, legislative districts would be drawn by a nonpartisan expert, whose work would be reviewed by a citizen commission. One condition for the districts would be competitiveness An independent state demographer would help create the maps, which are scheduled to be redrawn after the 2020 census.

Currently, legislative redistricting is handled by two bipartisan commissions, one for each chamber. The governor selects members of the commission from lists of nominees submitted by the state committees of the Democratic and Republican parties.

Molly Fleming, executive director of MOVE, said the group wants to help Clean Missouri make state government more open and accountable.

“Big money and political insiders have been running the show for too long - leaving working people out in the cold,” Fleming said.

Sean Nicholson, executive director of Clean Missouri, said the group’s proposal has earned “support from across the political spectrum because everyone can see what’s been going on in Jefferson City. We’re all ready to restore integrity, transparency and accountability in our state government.”


Information from: The Kansas City Star, http://www.kcstar.com

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