money or 'personal bank accounts'?
A look at the funds state officials refuse to audit
"A lot of delegates
look at these as their personal bank accounts."
That's how some General
Assembly members treat their campaign-finance funds -- the donations
they get from supporters, says Delegate Albert Pollard, D-Lancaster.
The Legislature consistently
has rebuffed proposals to audit campaign accounts. So this spring,
VCU's Legislative Reporting class examined how lawmakers spent their
political funds last year:
resist calls to audit their political spending
A growing chorus of Virginia
legislators and campaign reform activists wants the state to audit
how politicians spend their political donations -- a system they say
is open to abuse. The
General Assembly rejected such oversight this year but agreed to consider
the issue again in 2003. [Story
by Holly Clark]
question some legislators' campaign expenditures
Delegate William Robinson
of Norfolk lost his race for re-election in November, but that didnít
stop him from spending political donations: Just weeks before leaving
office, he used campaign funds to buy a $1,650 chair and $4,633 worth
of computers. [Story by Corinne
game? Money passes from one politician to another
When you make a donation
to a Virginia legislator, itís common for the money to wind up in
another politicianís pocket. Thatís because state lawmakers give away
much of the money that pours into their campaign finance accounts.
Last year, members of the
General Assembly used their campaign funds to make $1.23 million in
donations to political parties and federal, state and local candidates.
[Story by Geoffrey Rowland]
donate to charities, the NRA and other groups
Virginia legislators are
a good source of funds for community, charitable and single-interest
groups. Using donations they receive from supporters, lawmakers often
make contributions to nonprofit organizations, including churches,
school groups and health clinics.
Recipients range from the
conservative Family Foundation and NRA to Planned Parenthood and the
NAACP. [Story by Juan A. Lizama]
expenditures doomed longtime legislator
Voters donít like it when
they think government officials have used campaign money for personal
instead of political purposes. Norfolk voters proved that in 1999
by ousting longtime Sen. Stanley C. Walker and replacing him with
a political unknown, Nick Rerras.
Walker, a Democrat who
died last year, was the longest-serving member of the General Assembly
and the Senateís president pro tem at the time. [Story
by Sharon Ramos]
expenditures topped $7 million in 2001
Getting elected is expensive:
Virginia legislators last year spent about $7.3 million from their
campaign funds, on items ranging from political consulting and office
equipment to bumper stickers and picture frames. [Story
by Olivia Lloyd]
mail rules, newspapers lag, in campaign ads
Delegate Thomas Bolvin
didnít spend any money on radio or television commercials for his
re-election campaign last year. He didnít buy any newspaper ads, either.
The Republican lawmaker from Alexandria spent $112,479 from his campaign
budget on direct mail.
pump more campaign money into direct mail than into broadcast or print
advertising combined. [Story by Dionne Waugh]