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Virginia House panel kills bill prohibiting personal use of campaign cash

The Virginia State Capitol building (file photo)

Without taking a recorded vote, a Virginia House of Delegates committee on Wednesday [Feb. 27] again blocked legislation that would bring the state in line with the rest of the country by banning the personal use of campaign funds.

By a voice vote, the House Appropriations Committee chose to continue the bill until the 2025 General Assembly session.

“It is our hope that during the course of the 2025 session that both Senator Boysko and Delegate Simon will be able to come back to us and bring us a piece of legislation that not only do I want to see passed out but the speaker would like to see passed out as well,” said House Appropriations Chairman Luke Torian, D-Prince William.

He was referring to Sen. Jennifer Boysko, D-Fairfax, and Del. Marcus Simon, D-Fairfax, who were spearheading efforts (link added by FFXnow) to craft a law that would clarify campaign funds have to be used for legitimate political activity and cannot be used on personal expenses such as mortgage payments, school tuition, vacations, clothing and cars.

Torian’s committee did not docket Simon’s bill earlier in the session. Boysko’s bill had passed the state Senate 35-4, and Wednesday’s hearing was a do-or-die moment for her version as lawmakers prepare to wrap up the session [this] week.

Del. Mark Sickles, D-Fairfax, said he would “reluctantly” second the motion to punt the bill to 2025.

The proposed ban, which has been blocked for years, is pitched as a basic good government measure that would prevent politicians from funding their personal lives with money given to them by corporations and wealthy donors.

Previous promises to work on the issue at a later date haven’t been borne out.

In 2021, the General Assembly created a special subcommittee to study campaign finance reform, and the personal use ban was considered one of its top priorities. That subcommittee barely met in 2021. The legislature re-upped it for another year, but the panel never held a meeting in 2022.

The subcommittee — which never produced a final report — is now listed as inactive.

This article was reported and written by the Virginia Mercury, and has been reprinted under a Creative Commons license.

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