Summary: This bill would prohibit legislators from holding fundraisers during budget deliberations, to ensure that legislators are not influenced by special interests when they are debating the state’s budgets, particularly earmarks that may benefit particular industries or organizations.
Why This Matters: Fundraising during budget deliberations greatly increases the potential for conflicts of interest with regard to specific budget items. These fundraisers can set up the potential for – or perception of – impropriety, as lobbyists sometimes raise legislators large amounts of money right before the legislators act on an earmarks that may benefit particular industries or organizations.
This bill meaningfully limits the possibility of potential conflicts of interest with regard to specific budget items and eliminates the perception of impropriety on the part of state legislators during critical debates on the future of the Commonwealth.
Even the perception of impropriety can have a corrosive effect on the public’s confidence in their elected leaders, damaging the government’s ability to take necessary steps to advance the common good during a time of fiscal crisis. We need to give the public reason to be confident that their elected officials are making decisions based on what is best for the people – not what’s best for their campaign coffers.
What this Bill Would Do: This bill makes it illegal for a legislator or their political committee to hold fundraising receptions and events for one week before, during, and one week after the state budget is being debated in the chamber in which the legislator serves.
The bill does not apply to debates on supplemental budgets. The bill stipulates that any campaign contributions received in violation of the law will have to be returned and the matter will be referred to the appropriate ethics committee.