Editorial - When someone's help is not welcome
The West Virginia legislature is embarking on a commendable attempt to tighten up its campaign laws with a measure to prevent candidates from taking campaign loans from anyone except banks and spouses. But the debate has exposed something else that needs regulating - some groups' practice of running negative ads on behalf of candidates without their permission.
But first, the loan bill. Under present law, the contribution limit for campaign donations restricts individuals to $1,000 in the primary and general elections. However, the law doesn't prohibit candidates from taking loans from private individuals, even though there may be little or no chance that the candidate will ever pay back the debt.
During the 1996 campaign, one candidate borrowed $50,000 from a Clay County physician, but as of April 1997 had only repaid $3,000 of that amount. The bill seeks to make sure that a loan is really a loan, and not a contribution disguised as one.