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Utah A.G. John Swallow leapt before he was pushed
Election laws » Utah campaign laws have few teeth, but they can be sharp.


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Thomas said the lieutenant governor’s office will use the special counsel’s report to identify any changes in law it feels are needed.

Already, requests have been filed for more than two dozen bills on campaign and election reform for the Legislature’s next session, beginning in January. Powell’s committee endorsed one this week that, ironically, might make it more difficult to void elections for violations.

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It would allow such action only if the violation affected the outcome of the election, which could be difficult to prove.

Powell, though, said legislative attorneys warned "that without that provision in the bill, the statute could be held unconstitutional," because a candidate could argue a minor violation wouldn’t have changed an election outcome, especially if the margin of victory was wide, as in many Utah races.

Utah campaign laws are now so loose, said Powell, that, at least so far, "I don’t see much positive effect on other office holders from the Swallow inquiry because we haven’t changed the underlying ground rules. ... There ought to be some guidance, some incentive to avoid the types of situations that Swallow found himself in."

Martindale said it’s time to draw hard lines in campaign laws.

"I think we’ve operated for far too long under the assumption that we just elect good people and we should trust them and everything’s going to be OK. By and large most of our elected officials are well-meaning people, but we can’t just make that assumption," she said. "We should have laws in place to take care of when that’s not the case."

ldavidson@sltrib.com




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