On Campaign Fundraising While the Legislature Is In Session

House-WellGinny posted a list of possible candidates that might run for Lynn Westmoreland’s third congressional district seat. Looking at the list, most are current officeholders, either in the House, the Senate, or in the case of Mark Butler, a constitutional officer.

If, say, these current elected officials decided to run for a state government position, such as Governor in 2018, they would be prohibited from raising funds during the legislative session. This rule has led state officeholders to resign mid-session. However, if they run for a federal race, the rule doesn’t apply.

This is important given the timing of the race. Qualifying for Westmoreland’s seat begins March 7th, and the primary is in late May. If the same rule on fundraising applied to federal races, serious candidates would be likely to resign their seats mid session.

One senior legislator I spoke with thought that the state would have no legal jurisdiction over federal races, but I wonder if it might be possible to develop internal procedural rules in the House and Senate to prohibit the practice.

If the purpose of the “No fundraising while in session” rule is to prevent some officeholder from accepting a campaign contribution in exchange for voting a certain way, should it make any difference if the campaign is for a state or federal office?

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Brian Keahl Recent comment authors
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Brian Keahl
Brian Keahl

I would think there would still be concern that contributions to the Congressional campaign could still influence the legislator’s vote during the session. I can see the flip side, that it’s a federal office and should the state may not be able to dictate how federal fundraising activities are carried out.

I can hardly wait to hear what some of the legal eagles have to say.