Corrupt practice should end

Published 12:00 pm Thursday, March 24, 2016

The practice of elected officials and candidates spending campaign funds on themselves for personal use has been ongoing for generations.

It is not new, and Mississippi is not alone in allowing it, but until recently the issue was not well-known by the general public.

Recent articles by The Associated Press and Clarion-Ledger brought to light some state officials and candidates were using unspent campaign money for everything from out-of-state trips and rent on apartments to everyday items like groceries, clothing and dry-cleaning bills. As many as 25 elected officials who have left office in recent years may have pocketed more than $1,000 when they shut down their campaign accounts. And former state Lt. Gov. Amy Tuck banked more than $260,000 from 2007 to 2013.

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To put an end to this practice, the state Senate Elections Committee amended House Bill 797 to prevent campaign money from being used for some personal items, as well as to keep elected officials from cashing out campaign accounts when they leave office. The bill is making its way through the Senate but may run into obstacles in the House.

We applaud the state Senate for taking up this matter and urge their colleagues in the House to approve HB 797 in an attempt to curtail potential bribery. We believe they have a moral obligation to their constituents, many of whom already believe crooked politicians are rampant in government.