Created By: Elizabeth Sanders on 06/24/2009 at 02:12 PM
Category: Campaign Finance Advisory Opinions
Caption: An advisory opinion that an elected official is not prohibited from using campaign funds to pay for the use of a telephone line at her personal residence, when it is used exclusively for staying in touch with constituents.
June 25, 2009
Maria C. DeFrancesch, Councilwoman
City of Kenner, District 4
1801 Williams Boulevard
Kenner, LA 70062
Re: Ethics Board Docket No. 2009-518
Dear Ms. DeFrancesch:
The Louisiana Board of Ethics, acting in its capacity as the Supervisory Committee on Campaign Finance Disclosure, at its June 24, 2009 meeting, considered your request for an advisory opinion as to the propriety of using campaign funds to pay for the costs associated with the telephone land line at your personal residence. You stated that you have a land line at your residence, but that it is not used for personal calls and that such calls are made from and to your cell phone. You stated that the only calls received on the land line come from constituents, since your number is listed in the telephone book, or from telemarketers.
R.S. 18:1505.2I provides that “contributions received by a candidate or a political committee may be expended for any lawful purpose, but such funds shall not be used, loaned, or pledged by any person for any personal use unrelated to a political campaign, the holding of a public office or party position.”
With respect to each of your following questions, the Board concluded, and instructed me to inform you as to the following:
1. Are elected officials required to keep a land line at their place of residence to provide access to their constituents? If so, are elected officials permitted to use their campaign funds to pay for said land line?
Neither the Campaign Finance Disclosure Act (CFDA) nor the Code of Governmental Ethics requires an elected official to maintain a land line at their personal residence.
2. Are there any circumstances under which elected officials can pay for said line through their campaign funds?
As long as the land line at her residence is used for keeping in touch with constituents and not for personal use, it is permissible to use campaign funds to pay for the land line. However, you should keep records to support the use of the land line for purposes of staying in touch with constituents or campaign purposes. Such records should be maintained for a period of two years after a final report is filed for the election. R.S. 18:1495.3I.
This advisory opinion is based solely on the facts as set forth herein. If such facts were to change, then the application of the Campaign Finance Disclosure Act and the Code of Ethics to the facts is subject to change. The Board issues no opinion as to laws other than the Louisiana Code of Governmental Ethics or the Campaign Finance Disclosure Act. If you have any questions, please feel free to contact me at (225) 219-5600 or (800) 842-6630.
LOUISIANA BOARD OF ETHICS
Kathleen M. Allen
For the Board