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Friday, June 23, 2006

North Carolina House Approves Ban on Personal Use of Campaign Funds

As Dan Kane reports in the Raleigh News and Observer, the North Carolina House has passed a tentative bill prohibiting the use of money from a candidate's campaign account for personal purposes. The bill sailed through the House 107-8, and will likely receive final approval soon upon the insertion and acceptance of an amendment relating to the bill's effective date.

The bill was introduced in response to reports that various lawmakers had spent thousands of dollars of campaign funds for personal purposes, including cars, gifts to their children, computers, vacations, and cold hard cash.

In light of the eight votes against the bill, I suppose it bears repeating that the money these lawmakers are spending on themselves comes from campaign contributors, many of whom have financial interests which are impacted by the decisions of the state legislature.

When public officials take private money, it compromises their independence and the integrity of representative government. When it comes in the form of campaign contributions from wealthy contributors, it undermines the ability of the rest of us to elect people who represent us.

For those who agree with the eight who opposed the bill, their path of recourse is simple: if they want to make money from private interests, they should stay in the private sector. Is that so hard?

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