California Lawmaker Proposes Bill to Make Campaign Funds Off Limits for Legal Defense in Criminal Cases

California State Senator Leland Yee (D-San Francisco) and two other state senators facing criminal charges will not be able to use campaign funds to pay their legal bills if Sen. Jerry Hill (D-San Mateo) has his way. He announced a plan this week to introduce a bill that would bar California politicians from having the ability to spend campaign funds on things such as legal fees, travel, and gifts.

Hill's amendment to current law would make several changes to the rules regarding how politicians can use campaign funds in his Senate Bill 831. Those changes include prohibiting officials from giving campaign funds to nonprofits operated by their political colleagues and banning the use of campaign funds for things like rent, utility bills, vacations, tuition, criminal defense, and gifts to family members.

SB 831 would also place a $5,000 cap on the amount of travel gifts officials could receive from nonprofit organizations, and require groups to disclose their financial donors to the Fair Political Practices Commission.

SB 831 is just one of several bills being proposed by state politicians in the wake of several political scandals related to corruption and other misdeeds by a handful of lawmakers including Yee – though Yee's case is by far the one getting the most national attention due to his strong support of gun control laws and his 2005 anti-video game bill that was ultimately defeated by the U.S. Supreme Court in 2010.

Yee is scheduled to appear in court today. He recently pled not guilty to seven charges in Federal Court.

Source: Sacramento Bee

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