Lawmakers give approval to lobbyist transparency bill
In efforts to upgrade transparency of lobbyist-candidate relations in the wake of the scandals that ousted Attorney General John Swallow, the Utah Senate passed HB246s5 Thursday. The bill would require anyone running for a contested office to be more transparent with lobbyist contributions.
Under the proposed law, candidates would be required to report any assistance they receive within three business days if the donation or volunteer service is made within 30 days of an election or convention. Failure to report a contribution would carry a penalty of either $50 or 15 percent of the value of the contribution made by a lobbyist.
The bill also would require lobbyists to wear name tags with the lobbyist's full name, whom they represent, and the term "lobbyist" in no smaller than 18-point type.
"You really don't know which side [lobbyists] are on or who they're representing because lobbyists represent multiple clients. This would require they disclose who their principals are," said Sen. Curtis Bramble, R-Provo. Bramble also said requiring lobbyists to wear name tags is common in other states.
The transparency efforts were bundled with SB97, a bill that would have banned "dark consulting," where lobbyists quietly help elect legislators in quick mid-term campaigns to replace members who resign. That bill died in the House Thursday on a 35-37 vote.