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Trial lawyers and unions have spent $25 million (and counting) to influence Missouri elections

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Money Trail

Missouri Chamber launches online tool so voters can follow the “money trail”

Which candidates are benefitting from the more than $25 million trial lawyers and unions are pouring into Missouri elections? The Missouri Chamber of Commerce and Industry has launched an online tool called Money Trail to track trial lawyer and union contributions, giving Missouri voters a clearer view of the candidates who are funded by these affluent special interests.

“Unions and the trial bar know there is much at stake on Nov. 8, and they are showing they will spend anything to keep their influence in Jefferson City,” said Daniel P. Mehan, president and CEO of the Missouri Chamber of Commerce and Industry.  “This website provides voters with a tool to study whether this significant stream of special interest money is the reason common-sense labor and legal reforms are blocked session after session.”

Aggregated daily from the Missouri Ethics Commission website, Money Trail shows a top ten listing of recipients of trial lawyer and union donations since Jan. 1, 2012. The site also shows a complete listing of recipients that can be searched by office or candidate name. Each candidate who appears on the listings can be selected to show the amount of the donations and names of donors.

According to Money Trail, Democrat candidate for governor, Chris Koster, is the top recipient of trial lawyer and union political contributions this election cycle. Since Jan. 1, 2012, Koster has received $3,212,242 from trial lawyers and $10,906,202 from unions. In total, trial lawyers have contributed $8.2 million to Missouri candidates. Unions have dumped more than $16.7 million into candidate coffers.

The battle to make Missouri a right-to-work state is the well-publicized reason behind the union funding. Trial lawyer donations haven’t received the same amount of attention, but are as concerning to Missouri business leaders. The American Tort Reform Association currently calls our state a “Judicial Hellhole” and the U.S. Chamber’s Institute for Legal Reform ranks our legal climate at 42 in the nation. In addition to Koster, fifteen other campaign committees have received trial attorney funding in six figures.

“Many of these trial attorneys are spending more on political campaigns than average working Missourians spend on a home – just to maintain the status quo in the state of Missouri,” said Mehan.  “Yet, it’s the average working Missourian who pays the price of excessive litigation through lost access to quality health care, lost economic opportunities, and increased costs of goods and services.”

Money Trail will be updated continuously and will remain in operation after the 2016 election. Ongoing donations can be monitored as critical votes are taken on legal reform or labor bills during the 2017 Legislative Session.

“The average Missourian has no idea how much a handful of trial lawyers and state and national unions are investing to keep control of our state policy. Do Missourians want the future direction of their state determined by these special interests? We believe the Money Trail tool will help voters answer that question,” Mehan said.

 

Top Ten Trial Lawyer Donation Recipients as of October 3, 2016:

KOSTER FOR MISSOURI ($3,212,242)

A BETTER MISSOURI WITH GOVERNOR JAY NIXON ($829,859)

BRADSHAW FOR MISSOURI ($651,646)

KANDER FOR MISSOURI ($408,154)

SCOTT SIFTON FOR MISSOURI ($262,883)

SLAY FOR MAYOR ($214,925)

SCHMITT FOR MISSOURI ($213,830)

CLINT ZWEIFEL FOR MISSOURI ($177,372)

CITIZENS FOR STEPHEN WEBBER ($157,636)

CITIZENS FOR JAKE ZIMMERMAN ($153,866)

 

Top Ten Union Donation Recipients as of October 3, 2016:

KOSTER FOR MISSOURI ($10,906,202)

A BETTER MISSOURI WITH GOVERNOR JAY NIXON ($629,180)

TERESA HENSLEY FOR MISSOURI ($599,749)

CITIZENS FOR STEPHEN WEBBER ($377,975)

RUSS CARNAHAN FOR MISSOURI ($350,100)

SCOTT SIFTON FOR MISSOURI ($314,091)

CLINT ZWEIFEL FOR MISSOURI ($293,240)

WITH ROBIN SMITH IN 2016 COMMITTEE ($269,000)

MONTEE FOR MISSOURI ($237,140)

KANDER FOR MISSOURI ($231,251)

 

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