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Wed Aug 17, 2016, 10:49 AM

Some interesting columns re (non)campaign financing in AL ...

Ethics Commission puts elected officials on notice over campaign spending

By Kyle Whitmire | kwhitmire@al.com
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on August 05, 2016 at 9:05 AM, updated August 05, 2016 at 1:47 PM

Don't pay for personal expenses from your campaign accounts.

Seems simple enough, but for our lawmakers, the Alabama Ethics Commission had to draw the line. A seven-page opinion, approved by the Commission on Wednesday, could hit a lot of Alabama officials in their pocketbooks, forcing them to pay for things like cars, utilities and clothes with their own money.

The Commission calls it the "but for" rule.

It works like this. If public officials incur expenses they wouldn't have but for campaigning or executing the duties of their offices, they may pay for those with campaign funds. Otherwise, they must pay out of their own pockets.
more: http://www.al.com/opinion/index.ssf/2016/08/ethics_commission_puts_elected.html

Alabama political scams: Don't want to report campaign expenses? Just charge 'em

By Kyle Whitmire | kwhitmire@al.com
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on August 17, 2016 at 8:01 AM, updated August 17, 2016 at 8:02 AM

The Alabama Fair Campaign Finances Act requires political candidates to itemize campaign expenditures greater than $100, and sometimes those expenditures tell interesting stories or reveal conspicuous clues.

Take Greg Shaw, for example. In 2014, the Alabama Supreme Court justice spent $138.35 at a Cracker Barrel in Destin, Fla., which might be even more interesting than the $1,933 he spent at the Sandestin resort there.
You see, while some public officials, like Shaw, dutifully itemize their campaign expenditures, others have found a crafty dodge that allows them to obscure payments -- sometimes thousands of dollars at a time -- so that nosey columnists, ethics watchdogs and suspicious spouses can't see what they're doing.
Don't want to report it? Charge it.

It works like this. Rather than disclosing how they're spending campaign money, some Alabama elected officials are hiding expenditures by charging expenses to credit cards and then reporting only the credit card payments on their campaign finance reports, not what they bought with those cards.
more: http://www.al.com/opinion/index.ssf/2016/08/alabama_political_scams_dont_w.html#incart_most-read_opinion_article

Since the credit company is serving only as a conduit for payments, and not the originator of the actual expenses, this does not constitute "itemization" of expenses at all. I hope most accountants would regard that as Best Practices.

How Alabama lawmakers can leave office but take their campaign cash with them

By Kyle Whitmire | kwhitmire@al.com
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on August 10, 2016 at 1:42 PM, updated August 10, 2016 at 3:54 PM

When campaigns end, Alabama law doesn't require candidates to close their campaign accounts, and in one notable case, a former state lawmaker has kept his account open and active for more than a decade since he left office, spending thousands of dollars on things that are arguably personal expenses prohibited by the Alabama Fair Campaign Practices Act.

Steve Flowers, from Troy, served in the Alabama House from 1982 through 1998, when he decided not to run for reelection. In 2002, he launched his last campaign for the statehouse, this time as a candidate for the Alabama Senate, but his campaign was beset by controversy. First, an opponent claimed he didn't live in the district, and a private investigator hired to prove it later accused Flowers of punching his (the investigator's) nine-year-old son in the face. (A judge later acquitted Flowers in a criminal case and a civil lawsuit was dropped in a settlement.)
All of this is to say, from 2002 until today -- but for about a month in 2014 -- Flowers was not a candidate for office. Nor did he hold an office.

Yet, he's kept an active campaign account, spending from it periodically and, for the most part, dutifully reporting its spending to the Alabama Secretary of State. And most of that spending has been for costs associated with his hobby of political commentary.

While Alabama law doesn't require candidates or elected officials to close their accounts after an election, the law does say how they can and can't spend the money from those accounts.
more: http://www.al.com/opinion/index.ssf/2016/08/how_alabama_lawmakers_can_leav.html

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Reply Some interesting columns re (non)campaign financing in AL ... (Original post)
eppur_se_muova Aug 2016 OP
dixiegrrrrl Aug 2016 #1

Response to eppur_se_muova (Original post)

Wed Aug 17, 2016, 11:36 AM

1. Flowers writes political commentary columns that our Repug weekly paper prints.

It was widely reported that Rubio, in Fla. had been living off his campaign contributions for years, so seems to be a good ole boy tradition.

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