OPINION NUMBER - 149
ADOPTED - 1994/08/19
SUBJECT - Campaign Financing/Use of Campaign Funds
REQUESTED BY: The Honorable M. L. Dierks, State Senator, District #40
QUESTION: May campaign funds be expended to install a separate telephone line in one's home if the line is to be used for constituent calls and campaign calls?
A state senator wishes to install an additional and separate telephone line in his home. This new line would be used for constituent calls and campaign calls. The senator notes that he currently spends a great deal of time on the telephone when he is at home with these types of calls. Having a single telephone line in his home results in inconvenience to other members of his household who need to make use of the telephone.
Section 49-1419 generally defines the term expenditure as "a payment, donation, loan, pledge, or promise of payment of money or anything of ascertainable monetary value . . . in assistance of, or in opposition to, the nomination or election of a candidate . . . " Section 49-1446.01 generally provides that a committee (including a candidate committee) may transfer funds to make an expenditure as defined in §49-1419. A committee may also transfer funds for certain other purposes set forth in §49-1446.01. Section 49-1446.01(1)(c) permits the transfer of committee funds for "obtaining public input and opinion."
Clearly it is permissible pursuant to Section 49-1419 to use campaign funds for the purpose of making telephone calls directly related to the campaign. The cost of making or receiving telephone calls from constituents may be paid out of campaign funds as such telephone calls are part of the process of "obtaining public input and opinion" as provided by Section 49-1446.01(1)(c). Therefore, it is permissible to use campaign funds to install a separate telephone line in one's home as long as the use of this telephone line will be limited to campaign calls and constituent calls.
A state senator may use campaign funds to install a separate telephone line in his home if the purpose of the line is to make and receive campaign calls and constituent calls.