Republicans seek stay on limits to donations

Saturday, January 19, 2002

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. -- The Missouri Republican Party asked the U.S. Supreme Court on Friday to block enforcement of the state's limits on political party contributions to candidates.

GOP officials want enforcement of the voter-approved limits stayed while the party seeks to have the nation's highest court hear the case.

The 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals has rejected Republican challenges to the law and on Thursday turned down a request for a stay. The party's motion Friday was directed to Justice Clarence Thomas, who represents the 8th Circuit on the Supreme Court.

"Enforcement of the party limits would impose severe burdens on the party's efforts to compete for control of state government and to implement Republican policies," the Republican motion said.

It was not clear when Thomas would rule. Bevis Schock, an attorney for the Republican Party, said if Thomas granted the motion, the GOP would then ask the Supreme Court to hear the case.

"We're very hopeful that the Supreme Court will look favorably on our motion and we believe we had valid points to make," Schock said. "And all we're ask is for a fair hearing at the high court."

Same old 'meatloaf'

Democratic Attorney General Jay Nixon, who represented the state in the case, on Friday renewed his contention that Republicans have continued to go against voters' wishes with the legal challenges.

"No matter how many times you re-warm this meatloaf it doesn't taste very good," Nixon said. "It's the same arguments that they've been losing with the last three years. It's clearly a delay tactic."

At issue is enforcement of a 1994 law capping party contributions to $11,175 for candidates for statewide office, $5,600 for state Senate candidates and $2,800 for state House candidates. The law also limits party contributions to candidates for other offices.

As recently as last summer, both the Republican and Democratic parties continued to give candidates in special legislative elections sums that greatly exceeded the limits in the law, which had been suspended for a time.

The Republican Party had challenged the law after the Missouri Ethics Commission fined the party and several of its candidates for violating the contribution limits in the 1998 elections.

Those fines have yet to be enforced, and it remains to be seen how they will be handled now. The Ethics Commission previously declined to comment but is scheduled to meet next week to discuss the issue.

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