A bill that could change how New Hampshire politicians spend campaign donations could come under consideration by state lawmakers this year.
State Rep. Anita Burroughs, D-Glen, has decided to file legislation that restricts the use of campaign spending, according to a report from New Hampshire Public Radio, following NHPR reporting that showed some politicians have spent such monies to cover the cost of dry cleaning, floral arrangements and gas and auto repairs. Some have also used campaign accounts to pay for conference travel or membership fees.
The state’s campaign finance rules have provided fairly lax guidance on what constitutes a legal campaign expenditure. It has led to increased discussion on realistic costs involved with campaigning – outside of typical expenses like print and digital advertising – and where candidates need to draw the line between personal and political expenses on the campaign trail, as well as how campaign donations are spent after a candidate is elected.
Burroughs told NHPR that while she acknowledges legislators are in a tight spot, making only $100 a year – among the lowest in the nation – she maintains it doesn’t justify offsetting the costs of state service with campaign donations.
Burroughs instead would recommend a hike in legislators’ pay, or creating a new reimbursement system for relevant expenses.
"Right now we all make our own choices, and I wouldn't make a choice to send flowers out of that campaign fund," Burroughs said. "But I do think it's important we set it straight what's OK and what's not OK.”
Gov. Chris Sununu in August signed House Bill 651, which allows the use of campaign funds for child care expenses.
Backers have said HB651 provides important help to young parents who want to run for office. Recent action by the Federal Election Commission also has permitted such campaign spending in national races.