Created By: Sylvia Scott on 03/15/2007 at 01:46 PM
Category: Campaign Finance Advisory Opinions
March 13, 2007
The Honorable Hollis H. Downs
State Representative, District 12
207 W. Mississippi Avenue, Suite 300
Ruston, LA 71270
Re: Ethics Board Docket No. 2007-148
Dear Representative Downs:
The Louisiana Board of Ethics, in its capacity as the Supervisory Committee on Campaign Finance Disclosure, at its March 8, 2007 meeting, considered your request for an advisory opinion as to the appropriate use of campaign funds in connection with the purchase of a dwelling or vehicle used for legislative purposes.
R.S. 18:1505.2I of the Campaign Finance Disclosure Act prohibits the use of campaign funds for any personal use unrelated to your political campaign or the holding of public office. With respect to each of your questions, the Board concluded, and instructed me to inform you as to the following:
1. May you purchase or lease, with campaign funds, a vehicle and use it in your legislative duties?
In prior advisory opinions the Board opined that campaign funds could be used to purchase a vehicle in connection with the performance of duties related to the elected official’s public office and for campaign purposes. (BD 1995-105 and 2001-030) Accordingly, the Board concluded that you could use campaign funds to purchase or lease a vehicle to be used exclusively for campaign purposes or to use in connection with the fulfillment of your legislative responsibilities/duties.
2. May you use campaign funds to purchase or rent a dwelling in Baton Rouge and use it for your legislative duties?
You are prohibited from using campaign funds to purchase a dwelling in Baton Rouge; however, you may use campaign funds to reimburse your expenses, including rental fees, that you incur for the days that you are required to be in Baton Rouge to perform your legislative duties/responsibilities or campaign purposes, to the extent that you are not reimbursed for such expenses from the Legislature.
3. May you purchase, with campaign funds, furnishings and appliances for a residence in Baton Rouge and utilize it for legislative purposes?
You are not prohibited from using campaign funds to purchase furnishings and appliances for a residence in Baton Rouge, provided the dwelling will not be used for personal use unrelated to your campaign or attendance during session or at interim committee meetings and you are not reimbursed for such expenditures from the Legislature.
After your service in public office and when no longer useful to the campaign, an asset purchased with campaign funds must be sold at fair market value with the proceeds going to the campaign account or be donated to a charitable organization as specified in R.S. 18:1505.2I.
The Board issues no opinion as to laws other than the Louisiana Campaign Finance Disclosure Act. If you have any questions, please contact me at (225) 763-8777 or (800) 842-6630.
LOUISIANA BOARD OF ETHICS
Kathleen M. Allen
For the Board