By ERIC EYRE
CHARLESTON, W.Va. — The West Virginia House of Delegates approved a bill Monday that’s designed to discourage lawmakers from holding campaign fundraisers during the legislative session.
House members voted 98-0 to approve HB 2319, which would require lawmakers to disclose fundraising events held during the session — and the amount of campaign money collected at those events —within five days of the event.
“Basically, this is intended to shed light, to give disclosure, to make transparency during the time we’re up here doing the people’s business,” said House Judiciary Committee Chairman John Shott, R-Mercer.
Lawmakers often raise more money at fundraisers during the 60-day legislative session because lobbyists, special interest groups and other politicians are in Charleston at the time.
The legislation stops short of banning fundraisers during the sessions.
The disclosure requirements do not extend to the Legislature’s interim meetings and special sessions. Lawmakers also don’t have to immediately disclose individual donor contributions during the legislative session — only campaign cash received at fundraising events.
The House passed a similar campaign-disclosure bill last year, but the legislation died on the last night of the session, after the House declined to accept the Senate’s last-minute changes.
Last year’s initial bill also required statewide elected officials — the governor, treasurer, state auditor, attorney general and secretary of state — to report fundraisers.
Many lobbyists have complained that they feel pressured to attend fundraisers during the legislative session.
Under this year’s bill, the Secretary of State’s Office must publish the lawmakers’ fundraising disclosures on its website within 48 hours of receiving reports of the campaign events.
The bill next moves to the Senate.
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