House, Senate negotiators reach campaign finance deal

The measure would ban some spending of campaign money such as buying cars, clothing (other than campaign T-shirts and such), and other non-campaign expenses. It would allow some spending not related to a campaign but for expenses incurred by being an “officeholder.” It appears the compromise measure would allow lawmakers to use campaign money to rent apartments or hotel rooms in Jackson during the legislative session, which has become common practice for some lawmakers.

A state tax official has warned that because taxpayers also give lawmakers a per diem and cover other expenses, using campaign money for the same expenses could present tax problems.

The measure also would require lawmakers to itemize spending with a campaign credit card. It has been common practice for politicians to list lump-sum payments to credit cards, sometimes for thousands of dollars, to get around the requirement to itemize expenditures of $200 or more. The measure also prohibits “non-documented loans” from a campaign account, including loans to a candidate.

ClarionLedger
4/18/16