On the face of it, H1042 looks like good policy. It appears to require candidates for office to account for EVERY DIME their campaign takes in. If a person gives you ONE DOLLAR, you need their name, address, and occupation for your campaign report.
Some may complain: “Why do this for one dollar? You’re not really buying any influence with one dollar are you?”
This is a nice start to campaign finance reform. But there are other areas that need some attention. There needs to be some legislation cracking down on people clearly living off of their campaign funds (Yes, we’re looking at YOU, Kelly Hastings.). One of the most egregious offenders out there happens to be a primary sponsor of H1042: Mr. Jason Saine.
We all know about the $19,000-plus he spent from his campaign kitty on clothes. (He’s impo’tant. Gotsta look impo’tant.) He has also had more than $120,000 in “campaign expenses” during an election cycle where he has had ZERO opponents. (Oh, and the $300 dinner tabs!)
If you look at campaign finance reports, you see that campaign kitties are mostly stocked by lobbyists, PACs and other folks with interests before the legislature. There are all kinds of gift bans and limits in place. It is frowned upon for a lobbyist to give a gift to a politician or to buy him dinner. But it is winked and nodded at to give said politician a big check for his campaign kitty that he can deposit and then turn around and buy himself dinner, a vacation, or other nice gift with. (Talk about Downy®-fresh money!)
Some great legislation would involve limiting campaign spending to honest-to-God campaign needs (signs, ads, stickers, t-shirts, etc.). Also, there needs to be some documentation for this spending. If I charged $19,000 worth of, um. “clothing” to my business, you can bet your bippy that the NC Department of Revenue and the IRS are going to want to see receipts.