The Clinton Herald, Clinton, Iowa

Opinion

January 15, 2014

Clarify campaign involvement rules for Iowa politicians

During the upcoming session, Iowa lawmakers will probably be looking at clarifying rules relating to presidential campaign involvement for Iowa’s House and Senate members.

Even though we expect our state leaders to be familiar with whatever rules are in place, a clarification is a wise move, considering the controversy that swirled around former Sen. Kent Sorenson, R-Milo.

Sorenson was connected with the presidential campaigns of Michele Bachmann and Ron Paul during the last Iowa caucus campaigns.

In October, Sorenson announced that he would be vacating his position after a special investigator found it likely that Sorenson violated legislative rules by receiving money from a political action committee.

Shoring up some wording and increasing transparency is a good move. One of the first concerns of many Iowa leaders was that the allegations could give other states more fodder for trying to displace Iowa as the starting point in the caucus/primary season.

That’s a position we want to keep.

As the holder of that pole position, Iowa has a lot of influence on which candidates continue with their presidential aspirations.

Considering that important responsibility, it is imperative that Iowa’s lawmakers remain above board in any dealings with presidential campaigns — and that rules are clearly spelled out.

Senate ethics rules ban senators from receiving money “directly or indirectly” form a political action committee or a presidential campaign.

As outlined in James Lynch’s article Monday on legislative ethics, senators from both parties say they are working on changes to Senate rules to make it “abundantly clear” senators cannot accept payment for working on presidential campaigns.

Apparently, adopting the Senate rule is not a priority for the House, which requires members to report their employers, according to House Speaker Kraig Paulsen, R-Hiawatha.

“We’re interested in disclosure,” he said. He added that House members from both parties have worked for presidential campaigns in the past, without any ethics problems.

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