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Wednesday, August 1, 2007


In a unanimous ruling, the Missouri Supreme Court on July 19 reinstated the state’s limits on campaign contributions that had been repealed by a 2006 law. The court, however, hasn’t yet determined whether candidates must return money received in excess of the limits during the more than six months that the caps were lifted.

Over the objections of House Democrats, the General Assembly last year passed HB 1900, which eliminated contribution limits first imposed by Missouri voters in 1994. The bill also prohibited candidates from raising money when the legislature was in session. A lower court judge struck down the blackout period as unconstitutional but upheld the repeal of campaign limits.

Based on the legislative history of HB 1900, the Supreme Court determined that the legislature would not have repealed contribution limits without also imposing the blackout period. As a result, the high court invalidated that entire section of the bill, restoring the law as it existed prior to enactment.

The court is accepting briefs from interested parties through Aug. 3 on the issue of disgorgement. The Missouri Ethics Commission on July 25 recommended to the court that most candidates be required to return excess contributions. The commission, however, said municipal candidates who ran for office in the spring should be excused from returning excess contributions since their elections have already taken place.

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