Some Mississippi politicians can legally pocket campaign money

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JACKSON, Miss. (AP) – Some Mississippi politicians can – and do – legally take some of their campaign cash for personal use, a newspaper reported Thursday.

The Clarion-Ledger reported that politicians can do whatever they want with money raised before 2018 – including cutting themselves a check. At least one has pocketed more than $15,000.

Some could take much more money raised before new campaign finance laws took effect, the newspaper reported.

Mississippi lawmakers passed campaign finance reform legislation in 2017 after the Clarion Ledger documented how officials spent donations on clothes, cars, apartments, children’s parties – even an $800 pair of cowboy boots.

The newspaper said state filings show newly elected Attorney General Lynn Fitch cleared the remaining $15,351 from her old campaign account two days after Christmas.

Former Rep. Greg Snowden, a top Republican leader before he lost his reelection bid last year, cashed out about $9,000 for himself when he recently closed his campaign account, records show.

And Gov. Tate Reeves has $1.9 million in a campaign account that the newspaper says could legally be used for non-campaign expenditures.

Secretary of State Michael Watson said the old and new campaign finance rules are confusing, and he wants to phase out the use of old money.

“I’m pretty sure you’re going to keep seeing this question (of old money) resurface,” said Watson, adding legislators may want to put the controversy behind them.

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