Campaign finance limits repealed
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Campaign finance limits repealed

Date: September 4, 2008
By: Juana Summers
State Capitol Bureau

JEFFERSON CITY - Just days after the limits came off of individual campaign contributions, millions of dollars have rolled into state political campaigns.

For Congressman Kenny Hulshof, the repeal of campaign contribution limits helped the Republican gubernatorial candidate add more than $2.15 million to his campaign funds during the past month, compared to $1.3 million raised by Attorney General Jay Nixon during the same period.
 
More than one quarter of the money raised for Hulshof during the past month came from the national Republican Governors Association.  On Aug. 28, his report shows a $600,000 contribution from the RGA.  Were it not for this donation, the numbers would have been much closer, giving Hulshof only a narrow fund-raising lead ahead of Nixon for this period.
 
Despite Hulshof's lead in fund raising during the last 30 days, Nixon retains a multi-million dollar campaign funding advantage.  During the entirety of the campaign, Nixon has raised $9.7 million compared to $4.8 million by Hulshof.
 
In addition, Nixon goes into the final weeks of the campaign with an advantage of cash on hand of $2.4 million compared to Hulshof's $1 million. Hulshof spent significant amounts during his campaign in the Republican primary. 
 
Nixon received his largest single donation of $100,000 from Gray Ritter & Graham, a St. Louis law firm.
 
In Missouri's Attorney General race, the future is already looking a little greener for Republican Mike Gibbons, while Democratic contender Chris Koster works to regain the advantage in fund raising he held during the Democratic primary.
 
The Republican Senate president pro tem has already seen a large jump in donations to his campaign.  His campaign manager, Caleb Jones, credits the jump in individual donations to the fact that people believe in Gibbons.
 
"They see how important the attorney general's office is," Jones said. "They see how important it is to see a pro-business candidate."
 
Ethelmae Humphreys, chairman of TAMKO Building Products, a Joplin-based regional roofing company was Gibbons' single biggest contributor for the period covering July 25 to August 30.  She donated $51,350 to the Gibbons campaign during this period. The report also stated that David Humphreys and Sarah Atkins Humphreys, both employed by the company, also donated $50,000 each to the Gibbons campaign.
 
Four law firms and an individual lawyer are Koster's largest contributors, each donating $25,000 toward his campaign during the last month.  Koster received donations from Davis, Ketchmark & McCreight in Kansas City; Schiffrin, Barroway, Topaz & Kessler in New York City and Hersehwe Law Firm in Joplin. 
 
Koster also received a $25,000 donation from Dollar, Burns & Becker LC, the Kansas City-based law firm where he is an attorney.  Kenneth McClain, an Independence Mo. lawyer who practices with Humphrey, Farrington & McClain, PC individually donated $25,000.
 
The fund-raising lead enjoyed by Chris Koster during his Democratic primary campaign has dissipated since Koster became the Democratic nominee, besting challenger Margaret Donnelly by a narrow margin.  Now, a Koster official said the campaign will appeal to Koster's broad base throughout the state to fuel the campaign further as it approaches Election Day.
 
"We had a very tough primary fight, and we are obviously going to try and refill the coffers, but we are going to do what we've done throughout the campaign," said Danny Kanner, spokesman for Koster's campaign.
 
Thursday was the first day for full campaign finance reports to be filed since repeal of Missouri's limits on individual contributions.  The repeal, passed earlier this year, took effect last week.
 
Last year, Missouri's Supreme Court struck down an earlier attempt by the legislature to repeal the contribution limits that had been approved by Missouri voters in 1994 by an overwhelming margin.
 
Not all Missouri legislators, however, supported the changes in campaign contribution limitations.
 
Sen. Wes Shoemeyer, D-Clarence and who voted against repealing the campaign contribution limits, said repeal only reinforces partisan politics in Missouri.

"It will create transparency, but I think this transparency comes at a much steeper price than if we'd addressed it in a different way," he said.

Before the campaign contribution limits were repealed, an inflation-adjusted limit was imposed on how much an individual could contribute to a political campaign.  For statewide offices, the limit in 2008 was $1,350.