Re "Utah lawmakers downplay influence of special interests" (Tribune, Jan. 26):
In the most recent election cycle, the five largest categories of special-interest groups donated more than $1.6 million to Utah legislators. If distributed equally to the campaigns of our state representatives and senators, this would be a tidy $15,000 each.
Of course, these donations are not portioned out impartially; they are targeted to specific leadership and committee members with potential influence on a donor's business affairs. It's all perfectly legal (at least the part we know), but it's a wild fantasy to believe that nothing is expected in return.
"I'm sure there's some influence, but it's minimal from my experience," said incoming Senate Majority Leader Ralph Okerlund, R-Monroe. Businesses are not in the habit of incurring costs without predictable and exponential returns on investments.
In my experience, money talks; everything else walks.