The Iowa Senate has passed a bill that would forbid candidates involved in state-level races from using campaign funds to pay themselves a salary. The issue has flared during a Democratic primary that pits Congressman Leonard Boswell against former State Representative Ed Fallon who paid himself a salary from his campaign funds when he ran for governor in 2006.
Senator Jack Hatch, a Democrat from Des Moines, who backs Boswell, says the issue needed clarification, but there was no need for the legislature to take a stand now.”There are a couple of politicians that are finding themselves in this position right now, mainly former State Representative Ed Fallon, but I think the message was sent clearly that that was a questionable activity,” Hatch says. “And in the middle of a campaign that he’s in, I don’t think it’s necessary for the legislature to make that kind of a blatant statement.”
But Senate President Jack Kibbie, a Democrat from Emmetsburg, says legislators have every right to get involved.”We’re making it our business…campaign funds — what they can be used for and what they can’t be used for,” Kibbie says.
Hatch,one of only two senators to vote against the bill,says the message has been sent.”But I think it was unfortunate that the legislature had to make that kind of a declaration this close to a congressional election,” Hatch says.
Current state law prohibits candidates from using campaign money to cover “personal expenses.” If the bill becomes law, candidates who pay themselves a salary out of their campaign treasury will face up to a year in jail and a fine of up to $2000. Candidates for federal office — those who’re running for the U.S. House and Senate — are governed by campaign rules at the federal level while candidates for the state legislature as well as for governor and other statewide offices are to abide by state campaign finance guidelines.