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Utah bill would add teeth to campaign-disclosure law

First Published      Last Updated Feb 24 2014 08:45 pm

Candidates would, for the first time, have to pay a fine for failing to disclose donors within 30 days under a bill cleared Monday by a Utah House committee.

HB246, sponsored by Rep. Craig Hall, R-West Valley City, imposes a fine of $50 or 15 percent the value of the contribution if office seekers fail to comply with a law requiring candidates to report contributions within 30 days of receiving the funds.

The requirement is in law already, but there is no penalty.

"Rules without punishments are just suggestions," Hall said. "There's absolutely nothing that can be done by the lieutenant governor's office besides calling the candidate on the phone and asking the candidate nicely that the candidate abide by the law."

In addition to the fine, the candidate's name would be reflected on the lieutenant governor's website as having failed to report the contribution.

Last week, some members of the House committee investigating former Attorney General John Swallow expressed concerns that publicly identifying violators went too far.

On Monday, Hall's bill won unanimous approval from the House Government Operations Committee.

The committee also embraced HB235, sponsored by Rep. Kraig Powell, R-Heber City, which would forbid candidates from accepting anonymous contributions in excess of $50, requiring the donations to be given to charity if the candidate can't identify the source.