JEFFERSON CITY — A judge ruled Thursday that Missouri voters should be allowed to decide whether to reinstate limits on campaign contributions, rejecting an effort to keep the measure off the November ballot.
Cole County Circuit Judge Patricia Joyce said the measure's prohibition on contributions to political action committees from state-chartered banks, utilities and foreign corporations does not violate constitutional rights.
She also upheld the measure's prohibition on contributions between political action committees and said courts should weigh the constitutional challenges later if voters approve it.
Attorney Chuck Hatfield, who represented groups seeking to knock it off the Nov. 8 ballot, did not immediately return an Associated Press request for comment Thursday. Hatfield can appeal the ruling.
At issue is a proposed constitutional amendment to limit contributions to candidates to $2,600 per election and cap donations to political parties at $25,000.
Missouri's previous campaign contribution limits were repealed in 2008. Since then, candidates have routinely raked in five- and six-figure checks.
The measure also would enact restrictions on other political giving in an attempt to prevent political committees from obscuring the source of their money.
Hatfield, who represented Missouri Electric Cooperatives and Legends Bank, argued in court earlier this week that the measure would violate the free speech rights of the bank and electric cooperative. He also said it violated the Equal Protection Clause by imposing different restrictions on campaign contributions from some banks and corporations.
But Joyce said it makes sense that the measure would limit donations from one political action committee to another and giving from foreign corporations in an attempt to increase transparency. She said more stringent restrictions on state-chartered banks and regulated utilities also make sense because she said there's a greater risk that contributions from them could lead to corruption, or at least the appearance of corruption.