The House and Senate have given final approval to legislation (HB 1845) that will prohibit candidates and elected officials from converting campaign funds for personal use. The unspent campaign funds may be donated to charity, political parties, or other campaigns, or be returned to campaign donors. The legislation requires more thorough reporting of campaign expenses and prevents heirs of deceased candidates from inheriting campaign money. The measure was one of ten recommendations made earlier this summer by the House Select Committee on Ethics and Governmental Reform, on which I sat, and which met prior to the start of this year’s short session. The House and Senate are also trying to finalize legislation that will increase disclosure of campaign contributions, require further regulation of lobbyists, and improve the ethics laws governing the Executive and Legislative Branches.
The final very important recommendation from the Committee, HB 1851, Voter-Owned Elections, has yet to come up for a vote on the House floor, but it is hoped that will happen early next week. Now, more than ever, it is clear that we need serious campaign finance reform. We must get the influence of money out of the electoral and legislative process.