JEFFERSON CITY — An anti-abortion group is accusing Missouri Secretary of State Robin Carnahan and Auditor Susan Montee of conspiring against its proposed ballot initiatives.
The Missouri Roundtable for Life filed a federal lawsuit Thursday claiming the two Democratic officials violated its free speech rights by drafting ballot summaries that would prejudice voters against its initiatives.
A state judge in June rejected a similar conspiracy lawsuit and upheld the ballot summaries prepared by Carnahan and Montee. Under Missouri law, the secretary of state is responsible for summarizing initiatives and the auditor determines a financial impact.
The Roundtable for Life has submitted numerous versions of initiatives intended to prevent public money from funding abortions or certain kinds of human embryonic stem cell research. But the group has not begun gathering signatures for petitions to get them on the 2010 ballot, because it disagrees with the official summaries that would appear on the petitions and ballot.
"This lawsuit is an attempt by Missouri Roundtable For Life to hold Carnahan and Montee accountable for their flagrant abuse of their responsibility to fairly and impartially handle citizen groups' initiative petitions," Roundtable for Life attorney Matt Hearne said in a written statement.