The Senate unanimously passed a bill Wednesday that would require Mississippi politicians to itemize campaign spending done with a credit card instead of just listing a lump-sum payment to the card company as many have been doing for years on their public reports. But the chances of further campaign-finance reform appear slim for this legislative session. A continuing Clarion-Ledger special report, “Public Office/Private Gain,” has shown Mississippi politicians spend campaign money on clothes, groceries, trips out of state, cars, apartments, home improvements, payments to their own companies and to themselves and many other personal expenses prohibited in other states and in federal campaigns. For many, campaign accounts appear to have become a second income, funded by lobbyists and special interests doing business with the state.
Politicians are supposed to itemize purchases of $200 or more on their campaign finance reports available to the public. But many spend thousands of dollars — some have spent tens of thousands or even hundreds of thousands of dollars over the last few years — without itemizing the spending. Senate Bill 2374, authored by Sen. David Blount, would bring a little more transparency to a campaign finance system that’s been called “a recipe for ethical disaster” and “legalized bribery” by experts and politicians.
“If you are making expenditures that need to be disclosed under law, you shouldn’t be able to hide those expenditures in a single credit card bill,” Blount said. His bill passed, but only after language was stripped from it that would have required politicians to list the purpose of their expenditures.
Full Article: Miss. Senate takes step toward campaign finance reform.