Monday, February 12, 2001
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Posted on: Monday, February 12, 2001

Campaign dollars must be for the campaigns

Whatever else one might say about her, City Council member Rene Mansho seems to have a fairly profound misunderstanding of what political campaign funds are all about.

Mansho is being looked at by the state Campaign Spending Commission for the use of her campaign money to pay for a variety of government trips she has taken in her official Council capacity.

Some $30,000 in campaign funds were used to pay for trips, telephone calls and other city-related business, according to records. If this wasn’t proper, Mansho says, she will repay the money.

What part of the words "campaign funds" is it that Councilwoman Mansho does not understand? A very simple principle is at play here:

People give money to candidates to help them run for, and hopefully win, elective office. That is the implicit and explicit contract between contributor and candidate.

The money is under the control of the candidate, but does not belong to the individual. It belongs to the campaign. By law, excess money can be kept to help pay for future campaigns, on the theory that if contributors wanted to help the candidate now, they will want to help the candidate then.

But the money is not supposed to be used for private purposes (a family trip to Las Vegas, for instance) or even for perfectly legitimate public purposes (out-of-state travel on Council business, for instance).

The money must be paid back.

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