Here in the “Show Me” state, ethics reform has been an uphill battle as steep as the streets of Jefferson City, the capital.
It’s not that ethics bills have no supporters. Indeed, they do. The number of ethics-related bills and joint resolutions introduced in the General Assembly has increased each of the last three years, with 39 introduced in 2015. Democratic Gov. Jeremiah “Jay” Nixon has pledged to take the issue directly to voters in a ballot issue if lawmakers didn’t act. But not one ethics bill has passed in the last three years, despite Missouri's dubious status as a state without campaign finance limits, lobbyist gift limits, or cooling-off periods for legislators registering as lobbyists.
As a result, Missouri earned a D- grade with a score of 62, tied with Idaho for 26th place among the states in the State Integrity Investigation, an assessment of state government transparency and accountability conducted by the Center for Public Integrity and Global Integrity.
That’s a drop from 2012, when the Missouri garnered a C- and a rank of 16th. But the scores are not directly comparable, due to changes made to improve and update the project and methodology, such as eliminating the category for redistricting, a process that generally occurs only once every 10 years.