OPINION NUMBER - 041

ADOPTED - 1980/12/19

SUBJECT - Use of campaign funds.

QUESTION: May unexpended campaign funds be used by a public official to hire a non-public employee to do such work as may be designated by said public official relative to the duties of his public office, but not required thereby.

CONCLUSION

Yes.

FACTS

The public official requesting this advisory opinion has excess campaign funds and by reason of being eligible for re-election is considered a candidate under the Accountability Act. He is a member of an independent commission. He states that he does not have access to research staff, but wishes to use his excess campaign funds to hire a law clerk for the purpose of developing laws for the restructuring of his commission. His request for an advisory opinion asks if this use of unexpended campaign funds is proper, how to report such expenditures and when.

ANALYSIS

Section 45-1419(1) defines an expenditure to mean a payment . . . or anything of ascertainable monetary value for goods, materials, services, or facilities in assistance of, or in opposition to, the nomination or election of a candidate . . .. The public official in question is eligible for re-election and is therefore a candidate pursuant to the provisions of section 49-1409. Except as provided in section 49-1479(2), there are no specifically prohibited expenditures in the Accountability Act.

Therefore without different legislation, the Commission is in no position to prohibit expenditures such as those proposed.

An expenditure for the purpose indicated is in effect presumed to be, and rationalized as, a campaign expenditure and therefore reportable for the period in which it is incurred in the next campaign statement due thereafter. In this case, the next campaign statement would be due June 1, 1981, with a closing date of May 1, 1981, in the event that over $1,000 is raised, received or expended after December 9, 1980.