Trust isn’t implied any longer, it must be earned

Brandon Byer - Contributing Columnist

Sadly, government and trust have become like oil and water.

While Americans are expected to uphold the values of accountability, fairness and transparency, some elected officials have been abusing a loophole in the law to circumvent disclosing campaign donations ¬¬– through the use of non-profit organizations.

The Sunshine Law, which is celebrated annually during Sunshine Week in March, is our tool to ward off instances such as these. These laws require government entities and officials to disseminate legal documentation, such as: records, contracts and pertinent public information.

The people of Missouri have the right to know what individuals and institutions are giving money to political candidates under the premise of Sunshine Law.

To that end, Democrats in the Missouri House of Representatives have proposed House Bill No. 949. The sponsored legislation would obligate committees formed on the behalf of a political candidate to “file a statement of organization with the Missouri ethics commission within thirty days after the committee is formed.”

According to Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW), Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens collected major donations from “two federal super PACs,” which were “entirely funded by non-profits” during the recent race for the governorship.

Nonprofits aren’t required by law to disclose the amount of funds diverted into their coffers.

Furthermore, there’s no ceiling, or upper-limit that these advertisers, corporations, or private donors can provide to a contender for a government office.

While some elected officials are allowed to skate by in secrecy, the American government continually bombards its own citizens for full disclosure of personal information.

It’s hypocrisy at its peak.

Politicians love giving interview after interview mentioning honesty and openness with the electorate, when behind closed doors; their actions contradict their words.

Sunshine Law holds our representatives accountable to the decisions and declarations they make.

There are loopholes that must be patched up. The ship — our federal government’s credibility, is gradually sinking and soon enough no repairs made to its foundation will matter.

Elected officials, like Greitens, have assumed major power positions. With influence, should come respect for the laws put in place that will benefit the greater good’s understanding of what’s taking place behind-the-scenes.

Supporting House Bill No. 949 would be a positive step in the right direction to mend the trust in Missouri’s governmental infrastructure.

If the bill isn’t approved, then it’s fair to expect continued mitigation directed toward Sunshine Law. Hence, journalists will have a more difficult time serving the public’s need for corroborated, trustworthy and accurate information.

This should be everyone’s fear.

Brandon Byer

Contributing Columnist

— Byer is a senior at the Missouri School of Journalism from Palo Alto, California, who hopes to work as a sports journalist.

— Byer is a senior at the Missouri School of Journalism from Palo Alto, California, who hopes to work as a sports journalist.

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