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Senate panel advances long-term campaign finance reform

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RICHMOND, Va. (AP) – A Virginia Senate committee advanced a bill Tuesday that would bar lawmakers from using campaign funds for personal expenses like a mortgage or country club membership – a change lawmakers have long resisted enacting.

Applause erupted in the room after the bill from Sen. Jennifer Boysko and three Democratic colleagues passed unanimously.

Virginia state legislators are currently outstanding in the nation for their ability to spend money donated to their campaigns on just about anything. Despite a bipartisan insistence that lawmakers want to find a compromise on reform, similar bills adding limits on how campaign funds can be spent have been repeatedly defeated in recent years.

“Almost every other state and the federal government prohibits the use of campaign funds by a candidate or their families,” Boysko said as she introduced her bill. “But in Virginia, we could still take our family on a Caribbean cruise if we choose, and I don’t think that’s right.”