Three Republicans and two Democrats on the Iowa Ethics and Campaign Disclosure Board have voted to let Democratic state legislators who attended Barack Obama’s inauguration use campaign funds to cover travel and lodging expenses for the trip.
Iowa Ethics and Campaign Disclosure Board chairman James Albert, a Republican from Des Moines, was an advocate of the change.
“I do recall an inauguration when I was in Washington, D.C. when I was working there with the FCC in which an organization called Iowans of the Washington Area hosted a reception for Iowa legislators and others from Iowa and it was packed,” Albert said during Wednesday’s board meeting. “…You know, a lot of political business gets taken care of at events like that.”
The rules outlining how Iowa legislators are to manage their campaign funds have not specifically permitted spending for trips to D.C. and to Des Moines for inaugurating a new president or a governor. Betsy Roe, a Republican from Pella, supported allowing legislators to use campaign funds to cover travel and hotel costs for inaugurations.
“Having lived in Washington during several inaugurations and seeing close-up the kind of very important networking and personal relationship building, contacts, constituent service that gets done in inaugural periods I felt then and continue to feel that it would not be appropriate for us to prohibit the use of (campaign) funds to attend inaugurations,” Roe said during board discussion.
Roe, a lawyer, served in the administration of the first President Bush, and then worked as a legal counsel for Bell Atlantic in its dealings with federal regulators in the Clinton administration. She now lives in Pella with her twin daughters and her husband, who is president of Central College.