by Max Brantley
As promised. Sen. Bruce Maloch has filed a simple one-paragraph amendment to existing law to bring a screeching halt to a growing abuse of campaign finance rules.
His bill would end the spending of campaign money on other political campaigns, by terming expenditures on tickets to campaign fund-raisers a prohibited personal expenditure. Which of course they are.
Democrats and Republicans alike have abused this law, though Republicans were in the forefront in 2012. The history is that legislators begged an Ethics Commission exemption for use of campaign money to buy tickets to "pie suppers" and the like. A candidate argued that he or she was well-served politically by going to the church hall for a charity pie auction. Buying a ticket for such an event was a legitimate campaign expense, they argued, and won the exemption. Then came the semi-truck-sized loophole. Political candidates began holding "ticketed events" for their fund-raisers. There'd be tickets. But the event might be nothing more than lunch at Doe's attended by only legislators, who wrote checks from their campaign accounts to another campaign account. Incumbents with no true campaign expenses are most frequently the source of this money. It's an abusive practice. It provides an end-run around campaign limits for contributors who can launder money through candidates paying at "ticketed events." It is cheap influence peddling by legislators with their colleagues.
Good for Bruce Maloch. Can he get a second?
UPDATE: He at least has a House co-sponsor — Freshamn Rep. Warwick Sabin of Little Rock. They'll need a two-thirds vote to amend an initiated act.
AND SPEAKING OF NEW BILLS:
Sen. Johnny Key, with support from Sen. Fireball Holland and Rep. Bourbon and Bacon Biviano, has filed his bill to open the door to virtually unlimited school transfers. It removes all consideration of impact on segregation in transfers except when a proposed transfer "results in a conflict with an enforceable judicial decree or court order remedying the effects of past racial segregation." If, for example, the Pulaski County School District can get released from federal court supervision, then every white student in Jacksonville could transfer to Cabot. Or, though not likely, vice versa.