Virginia Senate panel votes down bill to limit campaign donations

RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — Virginia senators from both sides of the aisle rejected a proposal to cap campaign contributions, leaving Virginia as one of a few states without limits on political donations to its lawmakers.

The legislation, Senate Bill 803, aimed to set a $20,000 cap on the donations candidates running for the General Assembly, governor, lieutenant governor or attorney general receive from a single source in an election cycle.

It was put forward by state Sen. Chap Petersen (D-Fairfax City), who has continued to push for campaign finance reform in Virginia despite several failed efforts. Critics noted their concerns that it would give self-funded candidates an advantage and be difficult to oversee.

Petersen acknowledged that there would be ways for some to get around the rules when presenting the bill to the Virginia Senate Privileges and Elections Committee.

“Look, guys, I get it, loopholes. Nearly every other state in the union has limits on campaign finance,” Petersen said Tuesday. “We act like if this happens, Western civilization is going to come to an end. It’s not.”

State Sen. Scott Surovell (D-Fairfax) said the hesitation over the proposal wasn’t “about loopholes” but that it was “a complicated issue” that would take time to address.

The Democratic-controlled committee voted to kill the bill on a 10-5 vote, with four Democrats joining all six Republicans on the panel to reject the measure.

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