With the primary election coming in May and the general election in November, the House Judiciary Committee took a look at current code that prohibits elected officials and candidates from soliciting public employees, discussing H.B. 4414, relating to the solicitation of public employees by an elected officer of the state.
The bill will include “communication disseminated electronically” in the ways an “elected officer of the state or its political subdivisions or a candidate for an elective office of the state or its political subdivisions” may solicit any contribution, service or anything of value to a candidate.
Investigations into solicitation are currently handled by the Secretary of State’s Office. Assistant Legal Council Tim Leach answered Delegate John McCuskey’s question about the current problem with solicitation in West Virginia in the past five years.
“We haven’t prosecuted anybody under this,” Leach said. “We’ve had a number of occasions when this has come up and we have gone to the candidates and the campaigns involved and asked them what they were doing. Many of our cases end up in what we call educational moments, letters of instruction to the campaigns saying you’re on notice. Don’t do it that way in the future or you’ll be facing a different type of response.”
As confusion grew, the committee moved to amend the bill in an attempt to clearly state what elected officials and candidates can do.
The committee substitute for the bill was approved to be reported to the floor with the recommendation that it do pass.