“There are PACs that can accept contributions (during the session),” Gooch said. “It fills the gap that we have discussed in the past. “
The Senate Ethics Committee approved the bill, with the amendment.
For decades, state lawmakers have been barred from receiving campaign contributions from lobbyists and special interests during session. Long ago, the General Assembly said it was frowned upon for a lawmaker to take a check at the same time as considering legislation or funding that the donor might try to get approved or killed.
But caucus funds that raise money to support GOP candidates, such as the House Republican Trust and its Senate counterpart, are legally allowed to take money during sessions. The Senate Fund used to raise funds during the session, but Senate rules in recent years have prohibited it.
SB 221 – which awaits Kemp’s signature – would leave a governor, a lieutenant governor, a party candidate for one of these positions, and the Republican and Democratic leaders of the House and Senate to create such committees, that would raise funds either for their own races or to try to affect other contests.
Statewide candidates are allowed to raise about $ 18,000 per election cycle if they win a runoff – $ 7,100 in legislative races – from individual donors.
Limits on how much donors could give to committees would not apply, nor would they apply to caucus trusts. Thus, contributors – usually lobbyists, industry associations, or companies interested in government legislation or funding – can give as much as they want.
Elders on Capitol Hill remember when lobbyists seeking to pass legislation could go to the floors of the legislative chamber or to the anterooms and legislators to the buttonhole. Back then, lawmakers held regular fundraisers during session.
In the early 1990s, lawmakers banned lobbyists and others from giving campaign contributions to lawmakers during session because, aside from the possibility of corruption, it just didn’t look right.
But what was not said was that caucus trusts and other groups involved in the political process could still legally accept donations during the session, and they would accept “black money” – from money where donors are not disclosed.