Get breaking news alerts via email

Click here to manage your alerts
SLC Council poised to outflank state law on citizen petitions
Politics » Grass-roots group volunteers seek to halt political spending by corporations, unions.
First Published Jun 06 2012 05:49 pm • Last Updated Sep 11 2012 11:32 pm

Move to Amend is down but not out in Salt Lake City.

The grass-roots organization that is focused on eliminating corporate spending on state and federal elections got some bad news at Tuesday’s City Council meeting: Although Move to Amend volunteers had gathered more than the 7,141 signatures necessary to get on the November ballot in Salt Lake City, their petition is in the wrong form to put before voters, according to an opinion from City Attorney Ed Rutan and the council’s attorney Neil Lindberg.

Join the Discussion
Post a Comment

Under Utah law, a citizen initiative must constitute legislation that would produce law, according to Rutan and Lindberg.

Nonetheless, the council appears poised to adopt a new ordinance that would allow Move to Amend’s resolution, and others like it, on the Salt Lake City ballot.

Move to Amend wants Salt Lake City voters to endorse or reject these statements:

1) Only human beings, not corporations, are endowed with constitutional rights.

2) Money is not speech, and therefore regulating political contributions and spending is not equivalent to limiting political speech.

The group is working in about 90 cities to persuade states and Congress to ratify a constitutional amendment to overturn the January 2010 U.S. Supreme Court ruling in the case of Citizens United v. Federal Elections Commission. That ruling opened the door for unlimited corporate and union spending on political campaigns.

Jesse Fruhwirth, a spokesman for Move to Amend, said Wednesday that despite the city attorney’s opinion, the group is "confident we will be on the ballot in November.

"We’ve been working with the city since November. We’re disappointed in the city attorney’s office coming to this conclusion this late in the game," Fruhwirth said. "But we’re happy the City Council agrees that this is an important issue that should be on the ballot."

story continues below
story continues below

Council Chairman Soren Simonsen said the mix-up occurred because Utah’s law governing initiative petitions is unlike statutes in other states. The misunderstanding, he said, should not be placed with either the city attorney’s office or the city recorder’s office, which approved the petition.

"I wouldn’t characterize this as a miscommunication," he said. "The research was not done. They weren’t asking the questions the attorney was asking."

The faux pas aside, Simonsen said the council wants Salt Lake City residents to have a voice in the matter.

"We recognize the initiative of the citizens was a valid petition," he said. "We will have an opportunity to consider putting it on the ballot."

That, Simonsen said, likely will come in July or August after the council concludes its annual budget discussions.


Copyright 2014 The Salt Lake Tribune. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Top Reader Comments Read All Comments Post a Comment
Click here to read all comments   Click here to post a comment

About Reader Comments

Reader comments on sltrib.com are the opinions of the writer, not The Salt Lake Tribune. We will delete comments containing obscenities, personal attacks and inappropriate or offensive remarks. Flagrant or repeat violators will be banned. If you see an objectionable comment, please alert us by clicking the arrow on the upper right side of the comment and selecting "Flag comment as inappropriate". If you've recently registered with Disqus or aren't seeing your comments immediately, you may need to verify your email address. To do so, visit disqus.com/account.
See more about comments here.
Staying Connected
Contests and Promotions
  • Search Obituaries
  • Place an Obituary

  • Search Cars
  • Search Homes
  • Search Jobs
  • Search Marketplace
  • Search Legal Notices

  • Other Services
  • Advertise With Us
  • Subscribe to the Newspaper
  • Access your e-Edition
  • Frequently Asked Questions
  • Contact a newsroom staff member
  • Access the Trib Archives
  • Privacy Policy
  • Missing your paper? Need to place your paper on vacation hold? For this and any other subscription related needs, click here or call 801.204.6100.