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Lawmakers Close to Putting Campaign Finance Reform Law on Books
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Mississippi Senate in Session
Desare Frazier

Mississippi legislators are one step closer to putting a campaign finance reform law on the books. The senate is taking up a measure next week and house lawmakers have already passed their bill.

Currently, Mississippi legislators can use their campaign funds any way they like. Republican Senator Buck Clarke of Hollandale says it's been wide open.

"You know it was always an issue if you spent it personally under Mississippi law you report it as income on your tax return," said Clarke.

Clarke thinks there should be some restrictions on how campaign dollars are spent.  Republican Senator Sally Doty of Brookhaven, authored bill 2689--a measure that prohibits the use of campaign contributions for personal use like paying a home mortgage, utility bills or buying a vehicle. All expenses must be related to the cost of campaigning or holding public office. Doty says some lawmakers have been vague in reporting credit card expenses.  

"You need to say I spent $500 for an ad in my local newspaper. I spent $500 for food for a fundraiser. You know you need to itemize that. I think that's a very good portion of it," said Doty.

Doty plans to bring up the bill next week. Last year both chambers took up campaign finance reform. A bill passed the senate but not the house. This bill requires lawmakers report their expenses to the secretary of state's office. Delbert Hosemann says they're ready.

"You know we've been for it and we came close last year. I think we'll get it this year. Our office has already done all the computer work. We're ready to go," said Hosemann. 

Senator Doty's bill also assesses violators $1,000 plus the amount of the misappropriated campaign funds.