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Salt Lake City voters can weigh in on big money in politics

Published August 26, 2013 3:59 pm

Politics • National grass-roots group seeks to get big money out of ballot box.
This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2013, and information in the article may be outdated.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.

It hasn't been easy, but a citizens group called Move to Amend will get to tap Salt Lake City voters for the organization's push to get big money out of politics.

Salt Lake City residents who register to vote by Aug. 31 will get the chance on a special mail survey to vote "for" or "against" these two 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 questionnaire will be mailed to voters on Sept. 9 and is not part of November's municipal election. The survey must be mailed or returned to the Salt Lake City Recorder, 451 S. State, Room 415, Salt Lake City, UT 84111, before 5 p.m. Sept. 26.

The questions concerning personhood and speech were disallowed from the November ballot even though Move to Amend gathered 7,141 petition signatures for that purpose.

Under Utah law, such an initiative must constitute legislation that would produce law before it can be placed on a ballot, according to former City Attorney Ed Rutan.

In August 2012, the Utah Supreme Court refused to impose an extraordinary writ that would have compelled Salt Lake City to put the questions on the November ballot.

The council, which supported Move to Amend's efforts to reach voters, arrived at the mail-survey process in October 2012.

Salt Lake City's organization is part of a national Move to Amend campaign active in about 90 cities dedicated to undoing the 2010 U.S. Supreme Court ruling in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission. The opinion opened the floodgates for unlimited corporate and union spending on federal and state political campaigns.

csmart@sltrib.com