In West Virginia, the GOP-led Legislature has stopped pretending to care about the influence of money in politics.
Just take a look at Senate Bill 622, which, wait for it, raises the amount individuals can contribute to political campaigns from $1,000 to $2,800 and the limit on contributions to a state party executive committee or caucus committee from $1,000 to $10,000. It also raises the cap on political action committee (PAC) donations from $1,000 to $5,000.
The final form of the bill cleared the Senate and the House of Delegates on party-line votes during the last day of the session. All amendments suggested by Democrats to curb the amount of spending allowed were rejected.
The bill was introduced by Sen. Eric Tarr, R-Putnam, and, somewhat strangely, had no co-sponsors. A bill increasing the amount of money in politics in West Virginia, where it’s already a massive problem, is probably something other Republican senators didn’t want to sign on with until it came to an actual vote.
Gov. Jim Justice has yet to sign the bill, and he shouldn’t. There’s no sound reason for increasing the amount of influence a person or group can have over a politician by enabling them to spend even more on a campaign. That goes doubly for PACs, where donors aren’t always disclosed.
After a regular session defined by disasters like the ill-conceived and clandestinely negotiated education omnibus bill, the absolute indifference to furthering political corruption and outside influence in the form of SB 622 is maddening. It also shows a startling lack of shame on the part of legislators who support the bill.
Should the governor allow this legislation to become law, West Virginians can expect even more bills in the future that come from the playbook of ALEC or the NRA with little regard for how it will affect the actual citizens of this state. Outside of politics, West Virginians have been exploited enough by out-of-state interests. Enabling it further in the Statehouse is simply wrong.
Gov. Justice should recognize this, and veto SB 622.