Proposed change in law would curtail use of campaign funds for clothing

CARSON CITY — A bill increasing campaign reporting requirements and clarifying what gifts can be accepted by lawmakers and other public officers saw the “Armani suit” provision raised in a hearing Tuesday.

Senate Bill 49, called the “Aurora Act” by Secretary of State Ross Miller, who is seeking the changes, passed the Senate on a 13-8 vote. Aurora is the name of the search engine allowing the public to review campaign contribution and expenditure reports.

The bill generated controversy in the Senate when some Republican lawmakers objected to a provision added by their colleagues that would allow lawmakers to use campaign contributions to purchase clothing as part of their campaigns or to serve in office.

Dubbed the “Armani” provision, Senate Minority Leader Michael Roberson, R-Las Vegas, was a particularly vocal opponent of the language in the bill.

Assembly Minority Leader Pat Hickey, R-Reno, asked if clothing purchases would be allowed under an amendment to the bill proposed by the secretary of state’s office.

In testimony before the Assembly Legislative Operations and Elections Committee, Scott Gilles, deputy secretary for elections, said the proposed amendment would likely curtail, but not completely eliminate, the ability to use campaign funds to purchase clothing to serve in the Legislature.

The amendment would eliminate a list of what campaign funds could not be used for. Also eliminated would be specific language allowing the funds to be used to purchase clothing needed for a campaign or to serve in public office.

Gilles told the committee the use of campaign funds to purchase clothing would have to be reviewed on a case-by-case basis, using two different sections of the revised bill: the section defining personal use to mean an expense that would exist whether someone was a candidate for office or not; and the section saying personal use does not include “the ordinary and necessary expenses incurred in connection with holding public office.”

The committee did not take immediate action on the amendment or the bill.

Contact Capital Bureau reporter Sean Whaley at or 775-687-3900.