Senate Bill No. 356
(By Senator Wagner, Grubb, White,
Schoonover and Macnaughtan)
[Introduced February 14, 1995;
referred to the Committee on the Judiciary; and
then to the Committee on Finance.]
A BILL to amend chapter three of the code of West Virginia, one
thousand nine hundred thirty-one, as amended, by adding
thereto a new article, designated article one-b, relating to
elections and campaign practices; adoption of a code of fair
campaign practices; creating a bipartisan board to
investigate and issue advisory opinions concerning proper
and improper conduct under the code of fair campaign
practices; purposes of board; membership and appointment of
board; members to serve without compensation; board plan;
empowering board to issue and publish opinions concerning
violations of the code of fair campaign practices.
Be it enacted by the Legislature of West Virginia:
That chapter three of the code of West Virginia, one
thousand nine hundred thirty-one, as amended, be amended by adding thereto a new article, designated article one-b, to read
ARTICLE 1B. FAIR CAMPAIGN PRACTICES.
§3-1B-1. Fair campaign commission created; members; appointment;
term of office; meetings.
(a) There is hereby created the West Virginia fair campaign
practices commission, consisting of three members, no more than
two of whom shall be members of the same political party. One
member of the commission shall be appointed by the governor, one
member shall be appointed by the president of the senate, and one
member shall be appointed by the speaker of the house of
delegates. No member may be appointed to the commission or
continue to serve as a member of the commission who is a
candidate for or holds any public office nor shall any commission
member hold any political party office. In the event a
commission member becomes a candidate for public office or holds
an elected, appointed, or political party office his or her
office as a member of the commission shall be deemed immediately
(b) Of the initial appointments made to the commission, the
member selected by the governor shall serve for a term of six
years after the effective date of this section, the member
selected by the president of the senate shall serve for a term of four years after the effective date of this section and the
member selected by the speaker of the house of delegates shall be
for a term of two years after the effective date of this section.
Thereafter, the term of office of members of the commission shall
be six years, each term ending on the same day of the same month
of the year as did the term which it succeeds. When a vacancy
occurs as a result of death, resignation, or disqualification, it
shall be filled by appointment within thirty days of the vacancy
for the unexpired portion of the term in the same manner as
original appointments. Any member of the commission shall be
eligible for reappointment.
(c)The commission shall elect from this membership a
chairman who shall serve for a term of two years.
(d)The commission shall meet in the state capitol in an
office designated by the secretary of state. The commission
shall hold such meetings as may be called by the chairman or any
member. The secretary of state shall be responsible for
furnishing notices of such meetings and attend to the
administrative duties associated with the functioning of the
(e) Each member of the commission shall be reimbursed for
reasonable and necessary expenses actually incurred in the
performance of his or her duties as a member of the commission.
§3-1B-2. Legislative findings, purpose, declaration and intent.
The Legislature hereby finds and declares that every
candidate for public office should follow the basic principles of
decency, honesty and fairness in the course of their campaign
practices. It is the further goal of the legislature that
candidates for public office will voluntarily subscribe and
adhere to the code of fair campaign practices and agree to abide
by the spending limits recommended in the code. Therefore the
Legislature declares that it is necessary to adopt the code of
fair campaign practices as a standard for which all candidates
for public office should aspire and as a guideline for voters to
determine fair play in the conduct of a campaign for public
For the purpose of this article the following definitions
(a) The term "campaign advertising or communication" means
a communication authorized by a candidate or an candidate's
committee for the purpose of advocating the nomination, election
or defeat of a candidate;
(b) The term "candidate for public office" means an
individual who has filed a pre-candidacy statement according to
the provisions of section five-e, article eight of this chapter, has qualified to have his or her name listed on the ballot of any
election, or who has declared his or her intention to seek
nomination or election through a petition or write-in procedure
for any state, regional county, municipal, or district office
which is to be filled at an election;
(c) The term "code" means the code of fair campaign
practices as adopted in this article; and
(d) The terms "political committee" shall include all those
persons and entities required to keep accounts and file financial
statements pursuant to section five, article eight of this
§3-1B-4. Powers and duties of the commission.
The commission shall have the power to issue advisory
opinions on whether an action or proposed action violates the
provisions of the code of fair campaign practices. All advisory
opinions shall be published and indexed in the state register by
the secretary of state.
It shall be the commission's further duty to prepare and
distribute copies of the code to voters, circuit and county
clerks and other election officials and receive, investigate and
act on complaints or other information concerning noncompliance
with the code by candidates for public office that elect to
subscribe to the code. The commission shall make public the name and identity of any candidate subscribing to the code and
instances of compliance or noncompliance with the code after
conducting a proper hearing pursuant to section five of this
§3-1B-5. Hearing; disposition; sanctions.
(a) If a majority of the commission determines that there
is a reasonable likelihood that a subscribing candidate for
public office has violated a provision of the code it shall
inform such candidate that he or she has a right to appear at a
hearing before the commission within three days after the receipt
of the notice to contest the allegations. If a majority of the
commission determines after providing a subscribing candidate
with notice and an opportunity for a hearing that such candidate
has violated a provision of the code the commission may issue a
public opinion censuring such conduct and reprimanding the
candidate committing the violation of the code.
(b) Opinions issued by the commission concerning violations
of the code of fair campaign practices may be appealed to the
Circuit Court of Kanawha County or the circuit court of the
county where the violation is alleged to have occurred by any
subscribing candidate for public office subject to reprimand or
censure only upon the grounds set forth in section [§29A-5-4],
article five, chapter twenty-nine-a of this code.
§3-1B-6. Code of fair campaign practices.
At the time an individual files his or her pre-candidacy
statement, certificate of announcement, nominating petition, and
other paper evidencing an intention to be a candidate for public
office, or when an individual files the statement of organization
of a political committee, the circuit clerk, county clerk, or
secretary of state receiving such filing shall furnish the
individual with a form containing the text of the Code of Fair
Campaign Practices. The form shall state that subscription and
adherence to the code is voluntary.
The text of the code shall read as follows:
CODE OF FAIR CAMPAIGN PRACTICES
I SHALL CONDUCT this campaign openly and publicly,
discussing the issues as I see them, presenting positions and
policies with sincerity and frankness, and criticizing without
fear or favor the record and policies of candidates or political
parties which merit such criticism.
I SHALL NOT USE OR PERMIT the use of character defamation,
whispering campaigns, libel, slander or scurrilous attacks on any
candidate or his or her personal family life.
I SHALL CONDEMN the use of campaign advertising or
communication of any sort which misrepresents, distorts, or
otherwise falsifies the facts regarding any candidate or issue raised in my campaign.
I SHALL NOT USE OR PERMIT any appeal to negative prejudice
based on race, sex, sexual orientation, religion, national
origin, physical disability, physical health status or age.
I SHALL NOT USE OR PERMIT any dishonest or unethical
practice which tends to corrupt or undermine our American system
of free elections, or which hampers or prevents the full and free
expression of the will of the voters including acts intended to
hinder, prevent, or discourage any eligible person from
registering to vote, or from voting, or which is intended to
affect voting through the buying of influence or votes.
I SHALL NOT COERCE election help or campaign contributions
for myself or my committee or for any other candidate or any
ballot issue from my employees or from any person under my
authority, influence or control.
I SHALL IMMEDIATELY AND PUBLICLY REPUDIATE support on behalf
of or in opposition to any candidacy deriving from any individual
or group which resorts to the methods and tactics which I
condemn. I shall accept responsibility to take firm action
against any subordinate or associate who violates any provisions
of this code or the laws governing elections.
I PERSONALLY SUPPORT a limit on campaign expenditures that
when reasonable, sufficient and fairly applied, does not limit or restrict the expression of ideas of the candidate or others on
behalf of the candidate, but instead challenges individuals to
engage in open dialogue on the issues rather than merely to
purchase the excessive repetition of images and slogans.
ACCORDINGLY, IF I AM A CANDIDATE for one of the offices
listed below, I will, in conjunction with the committee or
committees organized on my behalf, adhere to the following
limitations on campaign spending specified for the office I seek:
U.S. House of Representatives333,333333,333
Supreme Court of Appeals125,000125,000
House of Delegates12,50012,500
Expenditures which do not exceed the limits designated for
the primary election may not be added to the limits for the
I SHALL DEFEND AND UPHOLD the right of every qualified voter
to full and equal participation in the electoral process.
AS A PUBLIC OFFICIAL, I PLEDGE to conduct my official duties in the public interest of all people without discrimination
against any person, faction or group. Furthermore, as a public
official I pledge not to utilize my office personnel or equipment
on behalf of any ballot issue or candidate.
I, the undersigned, a candidate for election to public
office in the State of West Virginia, or the chairperson of a
political committee supporting one or more candidates for
election, hereby voluntarily endorse, subscribe to, and solemnly
pledge myself to conduct this campaign in accordance with the
above principles and practices.
Candidate for/Committee Name Address and City
The secretary of state shall prescribe the forms containing
the text of the code and shall furnish the forms to the circuit
clerks, county clerks and municipal clerks or recorders in
quantities and at times requested by the clerks.
§3-1B-8. Retention of forms; public inspection.
The officer receiving the filing shall accept, at all times
prior to the election, all completed forms evidencing subscription to the code.
Forms filed with the circuit clerk shall be immediately
forwarded to the county clerk. The county clerk, secretary of
state, and municipal recorder or clerk shall retain such forms
filed with them for public inspection until one hundred eighty
days after the general election.
§3-1B-9. Voluntary subscription to the code.
Subscription to and adherence to the provisions of the code
set forth in this article is voluntary and in no event shall any
person be required to subscribe to, adhere to, or endorse the
NOTE: The purpose of this bill is to adopt a code of fair
campaign practices and establish a bipartisan fair campaign
practices commission that is empowered to issue advisory opinions
concerning acceptable campaign practices and conduct violative of
the code of fair campaign practices.
Article 1B is new; therefore, strike-throughs and
underscoring have been omitted.