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Senate Votes to Do Away with Campaign Contribution Limits

By a voice vote, the Senate adopted a measure that does away with individual contribution limits for political candidates and places stricter limits on contributions political party committess make to candidates. KSMU's Missy Shelton reports.

Democratic Senator Tim Green of St Louis County offered the amendment to do away with contribution limits.

Senators voted for it and tacked it onto a bill dealing with lobbyist expenditures.

Green says he hopes that removing contribution limits will allow the public to see how much money candidates get and from whom.

Current law restricts contributions for candidates seeking statewide office to 12 hundred and 75 dollars. Senate candidates can receive up to 650 dollars and contributions to House candidates are capped at 325 dollars.

Green says individuals, businesses and organizations routinely skirt those limits by giving extra money to political committees. These committees have much higher limits on the amount of money they can give to candidates. Green says that's why it's difficult to track who's contributing to a particular candidate because money gets funneled through political party committees.

He says when lawmakers set the current limits, they didn't intend for this to happen.

Green says no one spoke against his amendment to do away with contribution limits.

Republican Senator Norma Champion of Springfield says she supports doing away with the limits.

She says whether it's campaign contributions or lobbyist expenditures, the public needs to have the ability to track influence in Jefferson City.

In addition to doing away with campaign contribution limits, the bill would prohibit incumbents and challengers running for the state legislature or statewide office from receiving contributions during the legislative session.

Earlier this year, senate republicans cancelled a series of fundraisers that would've given lobbyists a chance to meet with committee chairman for thousands of dollars in contributions.

And last month, House Democrats held a fundraiser and charged five thousand dollar sponsorship fees.