Hall: Pickering needs to lay everything on the table

It’s the second point that will be the ultimate takeaway from this entire ordeal. If state law strictly prohibited candidates from converting campaign funds to private income, then there would be no questions to answer. It would be a right or wrong situation, transparent to everyone.

However, current state campaign finance laws allow candidates to take money from their campaigns and convert it to personal use, so long as they claim it on their income taxes. Donors don’t much like this, but it’s the way Mississippi works. In fact, some elected officials actually “live out of their campaigns,” so to speak. They pay themselves a salary or pay personal expenditures with campaign funds. Neither the general public nor donors know if they are doing anything wrong because we don’t know if they actually claim that income or not.

Sam Hall
Clarion Ledger
7/26/15