No more public funding for self-promotion

By The West Virginia Record | Jun 2, 2015

Pens, mugs, t-shirts, tote bags, refrigerator magnets, sport bottles, drink insulators, mouse pads, flash drives, stress balls, key chains – there are so many things you can get your name, image, or slogan printed on.

There may be set-up costs for each item, but, the more you buy of any one, the lower your unit price will be. You can even put your message on a cowbell of your favorite color for about a buck a piece, if you buy 200 or more.

Specialty items can be a good investment for a political candidate, particularly if they're something the recipient hangs onto. Come election day, the relatively inexpensive ballpoint pen or travel mug that a candidate gave away may be one of the last things a voter sees before entering the polling place.

If you were as clever and conniving as a former state attorney general, you could have passed out specialty items by the tens of thousands – all emblazoned with your name, face, or message – and not had to pay a penny for them. You could have gotten the taxpayers to pay for your trinkets, by passing them off as supplemental materials for some trumped-up public awareness effort that happened to promote your reelection.

We won't mention the name of this former state attorney general, because he's already had all the free advertising he's going to get.

Thanks to a bill introduced by Delegate Kelli Sobonya of Cabell County, endorsed by  current State Attorney General Patrick Morrisey, unanimously approved by both houses of our state legislature, and signed by Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin, elected state officials in West Virginia will no longer be able to promote themselves with trinkets paid for with public funds.

Candidates can still put their names on red or blue or lime green cowbells and pass out as many as they please. They'll just have to pay for them.

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