In a 100-0 vote Monday, Feb. 1, the House passed HB 1952, a bill banning the personal use of campaign funds that was introduced by Delegate Marcus Simon. In response, Clean Virginia Executive Director Brennan Gilmore said:
“Nearly all states and the Federal Government ban the personal use of campaign funds. We are pleased that the House recognized that, even if legislators did not abuse the current system, Virginia’s reputation was at stake. It’s now up to the Senate to follow through and reassure Virginians that our elected officials are good stewards of their campaign funds by passing this long overdue legislation.”
HB 1952 defines “personal use” using the federal “irrespective test.” Any expense incurred that would exist irrespective of the candidate’s campaign for office is deemed ineligible for use of campaign funds. The bill does specify a necessary exception for childcare expenses.
The ban on personal use of campaign funds has run into opposition by skeptical legislators since it was first proposed by an ethics commission in 2015. In 2019, the bill passed the then Republican-controlled House by a vote of 99-0, but later failed in the Senate.
The State Board of Elections will develop regulations for the personal use ban within 280 days of it coming into effect, if passed into law.