Mississippi House passes restrictions on campaign spending

Mississippi House passes restrictions on campaign spending

MISSISSIPPI (WDAM) - The Mississippi House of Representatives passed a bill Wednesday that would stop lawmakers from spending campaign dollars for personal use.

Last year, the House killed a similar bill by unrecorded voice vote. House Bill 479 was written by Speaker of the House Phillip Gunn, who said campaign finance reform would be a priority before the 2017 legislative session started.

Brad Touchstone, R-Lamar County, said he was disappointed the reforms didn't make it into law last year.

"I believe it will give the folks of Mississippi more confidence in the system, having some assurances that campaign donations are transparent and also spent on campaign related expenses," Touchstone said.

The reforms come after investigations by the Clarion-Ledger and the Associated Press showed lawmakers spending campaign dollars on clothes, boots, vacations and rent, among other things.

"A lot of folks, I think, were surprised by that, but the Senate was very responsible last year taking that issue, taking a lead on it," Touchstone said. "But like many things, at the very end of the session, it didn't make it out of the House, but I think that we're going to see campaign finance reform this legislative session."

The bill now heads to the Senate for more work.