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Utah Senate votes to close disclosure loophole

Published March 12, 2013 7:10 pm

This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2013, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

The Senate voted Tuesday to try to close a loophole that allows some to secretly make political donations by funneling money through corporations.

It voted 19-8 to pass HB43. Because it was amended, the bill was sent back to the House for further consideration.

The bill would require corporations to list people who donate to them for political purposes, much like candidates, political action committees and parties.

Currently, Utah law allows corporations to donate without limit to others or spend money on their own to influence campaigns — but requires listing only how much they spent, without listing any of their donors.

"I'm tired of attack ads where you don't know who is funding them," said Sen. Lyle Hillyard, the Senate sponsor of the bill.

The bill's main sponsor, Rep. Greg Hughes, R-Draper, said it makes sense to have corporations — including non-profits — follow the same disclosure rules as others.

However, Allen Dickerson, with the conservative Washington, D.C.-based Center for Competitive Politics, has said his group believes the bill is unconstitutional — essentially turning corporations into PACs —  and would likely challenge it. Sen. John Valentine, R-Orem and an attorney, also said he believed it could be unconstitutional.

Sen. Jim Dabakis, D-Salt Lake City, who is chairman of the Utah Democratic Party, opposed it saying creative people could still easily get around the disclosure requirements in it, so the bill does little.

Lee Davidson