Judge reviews case challenging rule that hinders employers’ political activity
Today, Cole County Circuit Court Judge Patricia Joyce heard arguments in a lawsuit challenging the Missouri Ethics Commission advisory opinion that blocks businesses from putting money into their own political action committees. The lawsuit was brought by the Missouri Chamber of Commerce and Industry.
“We believe the Missouri Ethics Commission opinion places an unnecessary burden on businesses wishing to take part in the political process and adds to the already confusing nature of Amendment 2. It makes no sense to allow a business to set up a political action committee but not allow that business to place funds into it,” said Missouri Chamber General Counsel Justin Arnold. “We hope Judge Joyce will see the impracticality of the opinion and reverse it.”
Under the commission’s rule, businesses in Missouri are allowed to set up political action committees. They can also send money to political committees set up by other companies. But if a business tries to invest in its own political action committee, that business could face fines and penalties.
The advisory opinion stems from language included in Amendment 2, which was passed by voters in 2016. This is not the first provision in Amendment 2 that has been challenged. Some provisions have already been thrown out by the courts.
“We believe this is yet another error created by a poorly written law, Amendment 2, and we hope the court can resolve it quickly,” Arnold said.
Specifically, the Missouri Chamber seeks a declaratory judgment determining that the advisory opinion promulgated by MEC was incorrect and that corporations are allowed to establish, solicit contributions and contribute their own funds directly to a connected PAC.