Citing the needs of those of modest means, Rep. George Hansen (R-Idaho) has asked the Federal Election Commission whether a member of Congress may openly ask people to give him money solely for his personal use.
"Like persons in other professions, federal officeholders have the same needs for financial security," Hansen wrote the commission in a candid letter. While Hansen's letter did not name the "federal officeholder" to whom his 11-point solicitation plan would apply, he told a reporter it was "possibly" himself.
An FEC spokesman said that commission rules permit a person to ask for legal advice on "2 specific factual situation that involves the requesting person" but that "hypothetical questions will not be treated" as requests.
Hansen's congressional filing of financial interests says that as of last April 30 he had four unsecured bank debts of more than $10,000 each, one more such debt than listed a year earlier.
In addition, last years filing reports no outside income above $5,000, the reporting minimum. His 1975 filing listed life insurance sales cooomissions above $5,000.
Hansen paid fines of $2,000 on May 2, 1975, after pleading guilty to two charges of violating campaign financing laws. The charges involved failure to file one campaign finance report and lying on another in 1974.
While there is nothing new about members of Congress trying to raise funds, Hansen's proposal is unusual in its directness of approach.
"The purpose of this solicitation is to obtain personal funds for (name of office holder) for his (her) personal use," reads a suggested cover letter.
"Funds obtained . . . will not be used for the purpose of influencing any nomination or election and will not be used in any campaign by or in behalf of (name of office holder) and will not be used by him (her) in any way to promote or to maintain the official activities of (name of officeholder)."
Hansen conceded that "there could be no denial that such personal gifts would be politically motivated to a substantial degree." But his 11-point plan could substantially avoid any undue influence, he said.
Among those points are a ban on known corporate and union gifts, a ban on gifts from government contractors, no solicitation in the home district or any knowing solicitation of a constituent, and no soliciting within a year prior to general election.
Because that year begins in November, Hansen asked the commission for consideration of his request as soon as possible so "we are able to begin the proposed solicitation almost immediately."
The FEC spokesman said a notice of the Hansen request will appear soon in the Federal Register, after which the public will have an opportunity to comment. Then advice will be rendered.