Public Financing Option for Candidates (Missouri)

This ballot proposal would create the Missouri Elections Trust Fund and would provide matching funds for candidates for public office who agree not to accept contributions from corporations or political action committees that accept corporate contributions and to raise least half of the total money they raise, including in-kind contributions from individual contributors who contribute a total of $200.00 or less to the candidate during an election cycle. Primary elections and general elections constitute separate election cycles.  

Only contributions made during the designated periods by individual contributors, totaling $200 or less per contributor per election cycle, will be eligible for matching funds.

Funds would be raised by giving taxpayers who pay at least $25 in state income tax each year the option of checking a box on their state tax return that would designate $5 of the taxes they have paid to go to the Missouri Elections Trust Fund. Contributing to the fund will not increase the amount of tax owed or reduce the amount of overpayment to be refunded

The ratio of the match relative to the amount of money raised by candidates will be determined by the Department of Revenue based on the total amount of money raised during the designated periods by all candidates who have elected to accept matching funds and the designated amount of money available from the fund during each election cycle.

This petition has been approved for circulation.  If enough signatures are gathered by May 3, 2020, it will appear on the ballot in Missouri on November 3, 2020.  If approved by voters, it will become law 30 days later.

Be it enacted by the people of the state of Missouri:

Two new sections of the Missouri Revised Statutes, to be known as sections 130.230 and 143.990, are enacted to read as follows:

130.230.  1. “The Missouri Elections Trust Fund” is hereby created, as a dedicated fund within the Missouri Department of Revenue, to provide public financing in the form of matching funds for candidates for office in Missouri who agree to, accept, and subsequently meet, the following conditions:

(1) Not to accept contributions from corporations or political action committees that accept corporate contributions; and

(2) That at least one-half of the total money raised, including in-kind contributions, by the candidate will come from individual contributors who contribute a total of $200.00 or less to the candidate during an election cycle. Primary elections and general elections constitute separate election cycles.  

2.Candidates must indicate at time of filing to run for office that they intend to meet and comply with the conditions for receiving matching funds. A candidate electing to receive matching funds for the primary election cycle must also agree to comply with the conditions for receiving matching funds during the general election.  

3. If it is determined at any time that a candidate who received matching funds was not in compliance with the conditions required for receiving matching funds or fell out of compliance at a later date, said candidate must return any matching funds received within 45 days of the date that it was determined that she or he failed to comply with the conditions for receiving matching funds.  

4. A candidate failing to meet the conditions for the primary election cycle, may not receive matching funds as part of the general election cycle.

5. The ratio of the match relative to the amount of money raised by candidates will be determined by the Department of Revenue based on the total amount of money raised during the designated periods by all candidates who have elected to accept matching funds and the designated amount of money available from the fund during each election cycle.

6. Only contributions made during the designated periods by individual contributors, totaling $200 or less per contributor per election cycle, will be eligible for matching funds. Contributions from businesses other than sole proprietorships, political action committees and other organizations, including other campaign committees, are not eligible for matching funds.  Anonymous contributions are not eligible for matching funds. In-kind contributions are not eligible for matching funds.

7. For purposes of qualifying for matching funds and determining the amount of matching funds to be distributed to each candidate the primary election cycle will begin with the date each non-incumbent candidate officially formed a campaign finance committee through the Missouri Ethics Commission; an incumbent candidate with an ongoing campaign finance committee filed for re-election with the Missouri Secretary of State; or an incumbent candidate amended her or his campaign committee by notifying the Missouri Ethics Commission of her or his intention to seek an office other than the office currently held by that candidate.  The primary election cycle for purposes of distributing matching funds will end on June 30 of each election year.

8.One-third of the balance of funds in the Missouri Elections Trust Fund will be distributed as expeditiously as possible after each candidate files the required campaign finance report with the Missouri Ethics Commission for the period ending on June 30 of each election year, but no later than seven business days after the date each candidate’s report was filed with the Missouri Ethics Commission.  

9. Candidates losing a primary election will not receive matching funds for otherwise qualified contributions made between July 1 and the date of the primary election and must return any unused matching funds no later than 45 days after the date of the primary election.

10. For purposes of qualifying for matching funds and determining the amount of matching funds to be distributed to each candidate, the general election cycle will begin on July 1 of each election year and end on September 30 of each election year.  Contributions made after September 30 of each election year will not be eligible for matching funds.

11. The full remaining balance of funds in the Missouri Elections Trust Fund will be distributed during the general election cycle to qualified candidates. This distribution of matching funds will be made as expeditiously as possible after a candidate files a campaign finance report with the Missouri Ethics Commission for the period ending on September 30 of each election year, but no later than seven business days after the date each report was filed with the Missouri Ethics Commission.

12. Candidates will not receive matching funds for otherwise qualified contributions made between October 1 and the date of the general election.

13. When a candidate losing a general election files a termination statement and disclosure report with the Missouri Ethics Commission, any and all funds remaining after repaying any debts owed by the campaign committee are to be paid over to the Missouri Elections Trust Fund, up to and including an amount equal to the full amounts of matching funds received by said candidate.

14. The Missouri Elections Trust Fund will be administered by the Missouri Department of Revenue based on reports filed with the Missouri Ethics Commission.   

15. All subsections and all clauses of this Section, and the phrases, and the words within them, are severable.  If any of the provisions within them are found by a court of competent jurisdiction to be unconstitutional or unconstitutionally enacted or invalid, the remainder of those provisions shall remain valid and the application of such provisions shall not be affected thereby.

143.990.  1. In each taxable year beginning on or after January 1, 2021, each individual or corporation having paid state income taxes in the amount of twenty-five dollars or more may designate that five dollars of the tax paid shall be paid over to the Missouri elections trust fund as provided in section 130.230.  In the case of a husband and wife with a filing status of married filing combined having paid state income tax in the amount of fifty dollars or more, each spouse may separately designate that five dollars shall be paid to the fund.

2. The option to contribute to this fund, as authorized by this section, shall be clearly and unambiguously printed on the same page of each income tax return form provided by the state upon which the amount of the amount of tax owed is indicated, and shall include the following statement: “Contributing to the Missouri Elections Trust Fund will not increase the amount of tax owed or reduce the amount of overpayment to be refunded.” 

3. The department of revenue shall deposit the contributions made pursuant to this statute into the Missouri Election Trust Fund as created in section 130.230.

4. All subsections and all clauses of this Section, and the phrases, and the words within them, are severable.  If any of the provisions within them are found by a court of competent jurisdiction to be unconstitutional or unconstitutionally enacted or invalid, the remainder of those provisions shall remain valid and the application of such provisions shall not be affected thereby.