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Utah's Right to Know
Donald Meyers
Donald W. Meyers writes about open-government issues for The Salt Lake Tribune. He is also the site manager of utahsright.com, the Tribune's online database of public records. He is also a member of the Society of Professional Journalists' National Freedom of Information Committee and sits on the board of directors of the Utah Foundation for Open Government.

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Do you want to know if your investment broker has a ‘minor infraction’?

How much information do you want about your investment broker’s background?

If Sen. Howard Stephenson, R-Draper, gets his way, there won’t be much at all — at least as far as cases brought against brokers by the state.

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As Robert Gehrke reported, Stephenson wants the state Division of Finance to remove cases brought against investment brokers removed from the Internet. Stephenson claims that some of the advisers charged admitted to "minor infractions", and that some of those admissions were the result of alleged abuses within the department that were highlighted in a 2008 legislative audit.

Stephenson said those cases now come up in Internet searches, causing people to "think my neighbor or my bishop is a criminal."

The Utah Securities Commission voted to keep the information public.

One would think that when it comes to investing hard-earned money that an investor is entitled to know about all the skeletons lurking in their advisers’ closet, no matter how trivial.

Stephenson’s request raises the question of what constitutes a "minor infraction" in the eyes of someone looking for a broker or financial adviser.

What may be minor in Stephenson’s eyes might, to another person, be a red flag that this broker may not be the person who should be managing his kid’s college fund or his retirement investment.

Dame Agatha Christe said, "When large sums of money are concerned, it is advisable to trust nobody." She didn’t make an exception for minor infractions.

Do you think making this information available will help Utah rein in its problem with fraud, including "affinity fraud"?



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