Candidates for public office would be subject to a new campaign finance restriction under a bill discussed by the Government, Military and Veterans Affairs Committee Feb. 22.
LB817, introduced by Omaha Sen. Ernie Chambers, would prevent a campaign committee from donating funds to another campaign committee. Chambers said when a person makes a political donation, it is with the intent that the money be spent in support of that specific candidate.
“When they give a candidate a donation, it’s for that candidate,” he said. “They’re not saying they trust that candidate to substitute his will for their will” by using the money to support a different candidate.
Jack Gould of Common Cause Nebraska supported the bill. Nebraska law originally prohibited such transfers, he said, but a bill passed in the 1980s carved out an exception for purchasing tickets to political campaign fundraisers.
“The original intent of the bill was that you would give that money to charity or keep it for your own use in a future campaign,” he said. “There was no thought to the fact that people would begin to buy tickets to political fundraisers.”
Also supporting the bill was Frank Daley, executive director of the Nebraska Accountability and Disclosure Commission. He said the intent of the original Accountability and Disclosure Act was, in part, to prevent a sitting politician from donating to a candidate for the same legislative body who might then be beholden to him.
Some are taking advantage of the fundraiser exception to donate large sums of money to other candidates, Daley said.
“More and more people have transferred large amounts of money but because it was for a fundraising event, it is within the confines of the statute,” he said. “Instead of buying a single ticket, people started sponsoring an entire table or buying ‘gold level’ tickets.”
No one testified in opposition to the bill and the committee took no immediate action on it.