Hey, If Former Senate President Irons Had Held Up a Bank, the Jurisdiction of the Criminal Court Would Have Been Contingent upon His Holding Office, Too
Kudos to Katherine Gregg at the Providence Journal for uncovering this, which she broke a couple of hours ago.
Former Senate President William V. Irons took $25,385 out of his long-running campaign account to pay legal bills he amassed while fighting ethics charges that resulted in the Rhode Island Supreme Court decision last year that effectively freed state lawmakers from Ethics Commission scrutiny and prosecution.
In his last report to the state Board of Elections, filed July 22, before closing out his account, Irons attributed the $25,385 expenditure to: “Other.”
Using campaign contributions for non-campaign legal fees? That’s not kosher, is it? Well, apparently it is, if you can somehow get an official sign-off.
On April 21, elections board chairman John A. Daluz advised Irons, in writing, that state law “permits the expenditure of campaign funds for any expense that results from campaign or office-holder activity.’
“Since the jurisdiction of the Ethics Commission was contingent upon you holding office, reimbursement of legal fees related to ethics complaints are the result of office-holder activities and are therefore allowable,” he wrote.
This is a definitional stretch that makes a mockery of Rhode Island’s campaign finance laws.