by Max Brantley
The House Rules Committee has a meeting scheduled next Monday to discuss the House rule 106 that prohibits campaign fund-raising by House members during legislative sessions.
This rule was passed when there was no regularly scheduled legislative session during election years. It was recently amended to say the prohibition only applied during the new fiscal session, not also to a 30-day period leading into and out of the session.
This year, the House Speaker, Robbie Wills, is running for Congress. The speaker appoints the Rules Committee. So what do you think the chances are that his committee will say that campaign fund-raising means campaign fund-raising and Wills is thus prohibited by House rule from seeking congressional cash -- or coroner cash or cash for any other elective office -- during the session?
The rule has been interpreted favorably toward a congressional candidate in the past and Will has already announced he has "no choice" but to accept contributions. The odds of an interpretation unfavorable to Wills are roughly equal to hitting the Powerball. And they aren't improved by the fact that other members of the Rules Committee are considering runs for the state Senate or Congress themselves and certainly would like to see the restriction applied only to House re-election campaigns. The Senate, meanwhile, is wholly unencumbered by rules on fund-raising while a session is underway.
Sticking a hand out to a lobbyist for a campaign check is unseemly enough under the best of circumstances. It presents the worst possible appearance during a legislative session.