Stinson Files Lawsuit Challenging Missouri Ethics Law

December 21, 2010 at 5:02 pm Leave a comment

 Bill prevents state chartered banks from contributing to Political Action Committees

Stinson Morrison Hecker LLP attorneys Chuck Hatfield and Khris Heisinger filed a lawsuit Dec. 6 on behalf of Legends Bank to block a Missouri bill passed in 2010. The suit claims the law is invalid based on violation of the State’s Constitution (known as Hammerschmidt challenges) as well as violations of free speech and free association.

 Missouri Senate Bill 844, which passed on the final day of the 2010 session and became effective in August, prevents state-chartered banks from contributing to political action committees, which they previously were allowed to do. The bill identified which specific entities were allowed to donate to PACs, but it failed to include state chartered banks in the language.

 “The law prevents banks from participating in the political process, and it places an unreasonable restriction on speech and freedom of association,” said Hatfield, who serves as chair of Stinson’s Government Solutions Practice and as the managing partner for the firm’s Jefferson City, Mo., office.

 The lawsuit also seeks to invalidate the law based on a “Hammerschmidt” challenge. The state constitution prohibits bills from containing multiple subjects and from departing too far from the original purpose of the bill. SB 844 started out in the general assembly as a procurement bill. At its passage, it contained the procurement provision, but also many campaign finance and ethics provisions.

Hatfield anticipates the litigation will eventually end up before the Missouri Supreme Court.

“We believe the Constitution is very clear that legislation cannot be passed in a way that lumps unrelated subjects together in a haphazard fashion. We will be moving this suit as quickly as possible.”

Entry filed under: Uncategorized.

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