Rolly: Utah mayor’s campaign money appears mysteriously

By PAUL ROLLY

The Salt Lake Tribune

Published: May 7, 2014 10:26AM
Updated: May 7, 2014 09:15AM
image
Paul Rolly

Bountiful Mayor Randy Lewis got a big boost in his 2013 campaign from a donor whose contributions accounted for more than half of Lewis’ $20,242 total, according to his campaign finance report.

The donor’s name is “Anonomous,” as listed in the report and, although it is misspelled, the $11,600 obviously came from someone who wants to remain anonymous. One problem: State law requires donations to candidates that exceed $50 to be reported and the donor identified.

“Anonomous” gave $5,000 to Lewis’ campaign on Feb. 15, 2013, and “Anonomous” kicked in $6,600 on March 15, 2013.

Mark Thomas, the state’s chief elections officer, says accepting contributions over $50 without identifying the donor technically violates the law, but if the candidate doesn’t know who contributed, it poses a problem.

“You can’t give the money back,” Thomas said, “because you don’t know who gave it to you.”

So if a bunch of money just shows up with an anonymous note saying it’s for the campaign, what’s a candidate to do?

Bountiful City Recorder Kim Coleman says he questioned Lewis about the large donations from “Anonomous,” and Lewis swore he had no idea who sent the money. So the anonymous contributions were allowed.

Lewis said he could make guesses about the donor’s identity, but the money came in an envelope with no name or return address. He said he has learned that in elections, particularly in municipal races where candidates are closer to constituents, folks want to help politicians they like, but don’t want it known they gave sizable contributions because then they might be hit up by other hopefuls.

Rep. Kraig Powell, R-Heber City, has introduced bills the past two legislative sessions that would require a candidate to donate anonymous contributions to a government entity or a 501(c)3 organization.

Alas, the measures have not passed.

Show us the birth certificate • Van Christensen must have ticked off somebody in Davis County government.

An employee of the state auditor’s office, Christensen was running for Davis County clerk/auditor to replace Steve Rawlings, who opted not to run for re-election.

After Christensen won 43 percent of the delegate vote in the Davis County Republican Convention to force a primary with Davis County Deputy Auditor Curtis Koch, Rawlings, who supported Koch, decided to find out all he could about Christensen.

Rawlings filed an open-records request with the state auditor’s office seeking all the fraud audits that Christensen was involved with since 2006. The request also asked for complaints the state auditor received about the Utah attorney general’s office that resulted in audits Christensen may have assisted. And it sought complaints about the lieutenant governor’s office and any investigations or audits of sitting state legislators since 2006.

And just when it seemed Donald Trump may be called in to do his own investigation, Christensen dropped out of the race.

State Auditor John Dougall said the request was a little problematic because it seemed to be politically motivated but was sent on the Davis County clerk/auditor’s letterhead with that office’s return address.

Dougall said his office responded that all the audits are online and listed the Web address where they can be found.

Bum rap? • Salt Lakers should feel safe knowing that police officers are there to ensure they don’t have to view a 3-year-old’s bare bottom.

Tara Curry tells me she was at the Salt Lake City Main Library’s plaza with her friend and their children Saturday when, while playing in the fountain, her friend’s 3-year-old son fell in the water, soaking his shirt and pants.

She took those off — since she had an extra set of clothes for him — but his underpants were wet as well. So she took those off and immediately put on a pair of long pants.

Busted.

Salt Lake City’s finest rushed to the scene, telling her she had to leave after such a display.

So it’s OK. You can go to the library knowing you are protected from flashing toddlers.

prolly@sltrib.com