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2 top Mormon leaders donated to Romney; PR manager gave to Obama

Published February 24, 2012 2:58 pm

This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2012, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

At least two senior LDS Church leaders from Utah and several top church employees have made campaign contributions to presidential candidates.

Federal records show W. Craig Zwick, a member of the First Quorum of the Seventy, gave two donations in May and June 2011, totaling $2,450, to Republican Mitt Romney, who is a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

Romney also received a contribution in June 2011 from First Quorum of the Seventy member Lynn G. Robbins.

Records show Robbins initially gave two donations each of $2,500 to Romney on June 11, 2011, which would have broken federal rules that limit individual donations to $2,500 per candidate. Paperwork was subsequently filed on July 6 to reattribute half the gift, $2,500, under the name of Robbins' spouse, Jan.

Although Federal Election Commission records show Robbins listed the LDS Church as his employer and his job as "teacher," the record for Zwick does not disclose his employer or job, only saying "information requested per best efforts." It would be surprising if the Romney camp did not know Zwick's position with the Salt Lake City-based faith, especially given that Zwick's son Spencer is a prominent and longtime Romney campaign adviser and fundraiser.

The political donations by Zwick and Robbins predate a June 28 edict by the LDS Church telling its top, full-time leaders and their spouses not to participate in political campaigns, including making donations or endorsing candidates.One of Zwick's donations, in fact, came the day before the edict.

That decree excluded area seventies, stake presidents and bishops, who work part time — though the policy announcement cautioned those officials to make clear they were acting as individuals and not representing the church.Nothing, of course, bars rank-and-file church employees from backing the candidates of their choice.

At least nine Utah political donors — with church positions ranging from software engineer to interior designers and maintenance mechanic — listed the LDS Church as their employer in federal disclosures. And they gave donations ranging from $25 to $2,500 to Romney, fellow Republican Ron Paul and President Barack Obama.

Notable among them was church attorney S. David Colton, of Salt Lake City, who gave Romney $2,500 in January 2012 and Mark Hurst, a community-relations manager with the LDS public-affairs office in Salt Lake City, who has made eight separate donations to Obama since May 2011, totaling $625.

Tony Semerad