Monday, February 23, 2004
Two recent stories highlight a trend of politicians using campaign funds to pay for their own personal expenses. I suppose that in addition to honorable men and women, there have always been unscrupulous people attracted to politics for their own gain. But, you have to wonder if a campaign finance system that trains candidates to grovel for money from powerful donors doesn't tend to encourage this sort of thing even more.
First, the Honolulu Star-Bulletin reports that State Senator Cal Kawamoto used campaign contributions to by himself a new truck and even to cover his traffic tickets.
Second, AP reporter Steve Lawrence writes here that California Assemblymen Ron Calderon and Ed Chavez have used campaign funds to take junkets to Las Vegas. Other California politicians have used campaign funds to buy baseball equipment, eat out in nice restaurants, or travel as far as Hawaii, Iceland, or even Cuba!
I have no problem with politicians wanting to drive trucks, eat out, or cruise the Vega strip. But, when the rest of us want to do these things, we have to dig into our own pockets. If there is some compelling governmental interest why the citizens of Hawaii or California need their public servants to travel, then the state should pick up the tab. But to have politicians using special interest money to pay for what looks like personal expenses is just plain wrong.