JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. — Democratic Attorney General Chris Koster and Republican former Navy SEAL officer Eric Greitens will face off Nov. 8 in Missouri’s gubernatorial election. The Associated Press asked the candidates about ethics and election issues. Here’s how they responded:
Should Missouri re-instate campaign contribution limits and adopt the proposed campaign finance measure, Amendment 2?
GREITENS: “I think the most important thing for us to do on ethics reform is actually to first of all make sure that we ban all gifts from lobbyists, that we close the revolving door between legislators and special interests. … I believe that we need to have term limits in place for every statewide officeholder. I think those three things are going to help to restore trust and integrity in government. I think we have to get those things done first, and then once we do that, I think then we should have a conversation about what we need to do to increase transparency in the campaign finance system.”
Do you support banning lobbyist gifts to elected officials?
KOSTER: “I do, actually. And I have implemented that policy for my own self. … It’s the easiest policy to police. It’s the easiest policy for candidates and lobbyists to understand. My sense is we’re all adults here. We can pay for our own dinners. … I find that exceptions take us into a gray area when we are looking for clarity and precision in the policy, and so my bias is to not put exceptions in and just make it a very clear bright-line rule that everyone can understand. Even a nickel for a cup of coffee is out of the question, and that way everybody knows where the line is.”
GREITENS: “I support banning all gifts from lobbyists. I think it is essential that we ban all gifts from lobbyists. This has been a major problem in the state of Missouri, and we need to have strong executive leadership. And we need to have a Legislature that people trust, and that’s why we have to ban all gifts from lobbyists.”
Do you think there should be limits on elected officials leaving office and becoming lobbyists?
KOSTER: “Yes. I think the six-month ban that the Republicans have implemented is really no ban at all. If someone is willing to skip the veto session then you can vote on a big bill for a utility company on May 15 and be lobbying for that utility company by January of the next session, and therefore the policy is pretty darn close to having no policy at all. I think that at a minimum, a legislator should have to sit out at least one legislative session.”
GREITENS: “Yes, there should be limits on elected officials leaving office to become lobbyists. We have to close the revolving door between legislators and special interests, and one of the planks of my campaign has been, from the beginning, the one-for-one waiting period. So if you’ve served in office for one year, you should wait for one year before you become a lobbyist. If you’ve served for two years, you should wait for two years before you become a lobbyist. If you’ve been in office for 20 years, you should wait for 20 years before you become a lobbyist. We have to do this in order to restore trust in government.”
Do you think Missouri voters should be required to show photo voter identification at the polls?
KOSTER: “My concern is the issue of disenfranchisement. … We need voter integrity at the polls and we’ve had a situation here recently in St. Louis that is causing everyone concern. We have the situation of the presidential race in Florida in 2000. I don’t mind responsible legislation that is intended to ensure that the person who is voting is in fact the individual who they claim to be. But the issue is one of disenfranchisement. This is a fundamental right much more deeply rooted, perhaps the most fundamental right in American society, more deeply rooted even than driving a car, or flying in a plane (or) cashing a check — other places we have ID requirements. And so some type of a law that makes certain that while we are maintaining the integrity of the voting but not disenfranchising anyone is critically important, and so the compromise legislation that was put together by Democrats and Republicans last session I think, at least on its face, is not an act in and of itself of disenfranchisement. But if I ever got the slightest sense that Republicans or anyone was either changing the law in a way that would disenfranchise those with disabilities, senior citizens or minorities, or were advertising across the state in a manner that was intended to scare them away from the polls, then I would go into court and try to stop it.”
GREITENS: “I believe that we have to have trust in the election system here in the state of Missouri. And I believe that asking people to show a photo identification at the polls will help to increase trust in our elections in the state of Missouri. So yes, I’m absolutely supportive of making sure that we have a system of elections here in Missouri that every voter can have confidence in, that it’s a system that’s run professionally to the highest standards of integrity that people can trust in.”