Gabe Holmstrom, chief of staff of the House of Representatives, responded to my question about a report that there’d be no action after all on a proposal to suspend a rule prohibiting campaign fund-raising during the legislative session.
“It is my understanding that it is no longer being pursued,” Holmstrom said.
I’ve been trying to get in touch with Rep. Bruce Westerman, a Republican candidate for Congress, who first raised the issue. He contends a House rule barring fund-raising was in conflict with federal rules. He also wondered about applying the rule to House members running for constitutional office (at least four are). A House subcommmittee yesterday recommended suspending the rule for all House members.
But Rep. Warwick Sabin said he wouldn’t support the change and said he’d push for a roll call on a rules change, which would require a two-thirds vote of a quorum of members. Rep. Andrea Lea, a Republican candidate for auditor, opposed the rule change. The Democrat-Gazette also noted opposition from Rep. Terry Rice, who’s challenging incumbent Sen. Bruce Holland. Senators don’t have a rule against in-session fund-raising. Rep. Andy Mayberry, who’s running for lieutenant governor, supported the rules change.
Timing of a vote — particularly one done by roll call — to help the self-interest of certain House members would have been a powerful symbol in a year in which voters may cast a ballot on an ethics measure that tightens some elements of the ethics law, but also allows longer service before term limits and provides a mechanism for easier pay raises for members.
The fiscal session begins Monday. The limit on contributions during a session has been in place more than a decade.