The Utah House on Thursday killed a bill to ban "dark consulting," where lobbyists quietly help elect legislators in quick mid-term campaigns to replace members who resign.
SB97 died on a 35-37 vote.
It would have required candidates seeking to fill mid-term vacancies to disclose donated time they receive from registered lobbyists.
Sen. Todd Weiler, R-Woods Cross, the bill's sponsor, had said campaigns to fill vacancies are often decided in just weeks or days among party delegates. He said a third of sitting Utah legislators including himself first took office through such mid-term appointments, and then have a 95 percent chance of re-election.
"Registered lobbyists will swoop in. Sometimes they will actually choose the candidate. They will tell them what to do. They will write their materials for them. They will tell them whom to contact. They will raise money for them. They will tell them what to say in their speeches," he said. "Often the result is they basically pick the winner."
However, several House members argued the bill would subject lobbyists to requirements not faced by other Utahns, and said people should be able to volunteer time for anyone they choose without disclosure.