RICHMOND, Va. (AP) — A Republican-led Virginia House panel voted down legislation early Wednesday that would prohibit lawmakers from using campaign funds for personal expenses such as a vacation, mortgage or country club membership.
Virginia’s elected officials are outliers in the nation for their ability to spend money donated to their campaigns on virtually anything. Despite a bipartisan insistence that lawmakers want to find compromise on a reform, similar bills adding limits to how campaign funds can be spent have been repeatedly defeated in recent years, including last year in the same subcommittee.
The panel voted down personal use ban bills from a Democratic and Republican delegate. Similar legislation is still alive in the Senate, but Wednesday’s vote signals it is likely to meet a similar fate should it cross to the House.
Lawmakers are only barred from converting campaign funds to personal use once they close out their accounts. A previous Associated Press review of the state’s campaign finance system in 2016 found some lawmakers frequently using campaign accounts to pay for expensive meals and hotels as well as personal expenses.
Opponents of the change argue that Virginia’s transparency-based system of campaign finance reporting discourages abuses.