Ballot measures draw millions of dollars for campaign committees

Thursday, July 17, 2014 | 12:48 p.m. CDT; updated 11:41 a.m. CDT, Friday, July 18, 2014

COLUMBIA — Ahead of the Aug. 5 election in Missouri, political action committees have collected thousands of dollars to help sway the outcome of a few hotly contested ballot initiatives.

PACs were required to submit quarterly reports to the Missouri Ethics Commission on Tuesday. The reports detail how much cash the committees have raised and spent since April.

Amendment 1

Amendment 1 is the proposed "Right to Farm" amendment to the state constitution, which would "forever guarantee" the rights of farmers and ranchers to engage in practices related to farming in ranching. The proposal has largely divided the state, but the financial reports indicate that supporters of the measure have a funding edge.

Hundreds of farmers and ranchers have contributed to two funds behind the amendment in amounts ranging from $8.88 to $1,000.

During the last quarter, amendment supporters collected five times the amount of donations as the opponents — $242,752 for pro "Right to Farm" PACs and $46,080 for the sole PAC registered against it.  

The Missouri Farm Bureau's Fund to Protect Farming and Ranching generated $50,558, and a second pro-amendment PAC, Missouri Farmers Care received $192,194 in donations during the last quarter.

Much of that money came from family farmers throughout Missouri, but large chunks came from the Missouri Corn Growers Association ($40,000), the Missouri Pork PAC ($25,000) and the Association of Missouri Electric Cooperatives ($25,000).

The only registered opposition to the amendment is former Lt. Gov. Wes Shoemyer's Missouri's Food for America. By Tuesday, the organization had raised $46,080 for the campaign.

The majority of that money came from two donors: $25,000 from Thomas Smith of Columbia and $9,788 in donations from the Humane Society of the United States.

Amendment 5

Two groups, one in favor and one opposed, have formed in response to proposed Amendment 5, which would modify Missouri's constitution by making the right to bear arms inalienable.

An opposition group, No on Amendment 5, was formed after July 1 and was not required to file a quarterly report. The group did receive a $5,839.83 donation from the Everytown for Gun Safety Action Fund.

A support group, Missourians Protecting the 2nd Amendment, did not raise or spend more than $500 during the last quarter and thus only filed a limited report.

Amendment 7

Amendment 7 would introduce a three-quarter-cent sales tax to fund transportation improvement projects throughout the state, including several major upgrades in Columbia.

The tax is expected to raise about $4.8 billion for the Missouri Department of Transportation over the course of its 10-year life span.

Two committees are duking it out on the financial battleground: The Missourians for Better Transportation Solutions, which opposes the amendment, and Missourians for Safe Transportation and New Jobs, which supports it.

The Missourians for Safe Transportation and New Jobs PAC has substantially out-earned its primary competitor with donations totaling $1.45 million.

Meanwhile, the Missourians for Better Transportation Solutions committee, which opposes the sales tax hike, raised just $2,172 from June 5 to 30.

According to the July report, the most generous donor to Missourians for Safe Transportation and New Jobs was the Industry Advancement Fund Heavy Constructors Association with contributions of $320,000 since April.

Other large contributors include the International Union of Operating Engineers, which has donated $100,000, and the Columbia-based Emery Sapp and Sons Inc., with $75,000 in contributions.

Amendment 9

Two groups have formed to support a proposed amendment that would protect electronic communications and data from unreasonable search and seizure.

Yes on 9, sponsored by the ACLU of Missouri, formed after July 1 and thus didn't need to file a quarterly report.

Protect Our Privacy has $2,000 on hand, all donated by the Schaaf for Senate committee. State Sen. Robert Schaaf, R-St. Joseph, introduced the amendment earlier this year.

Supervising editor is Jeanne Abbott.

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