Provo • Democrat Kathie Allen vowed Thursday to hand back any donations from “deep-pocketed special interests” or corporate PACs during her bid to replace former Rep. Jason Chaffetz. 

Since Allen launched her campaign in March, the first-time candidate and fundraising powerhouse has hauled in nearly $700,000 — none from political action committees. Her average donation, she said, is $31.

“We will continue to fund this campaign using mainly small, individual, grassroots donations,” Allen added.

Her pledge comes just one week after the Republican primary — with Provo Mayor John Curtis claiming his party’s nomination — where out-of-state super PACs spent more than $882,000 to sway the race in the overwhelmingly red 3rd Congressional District.

“Special interests and big money have far too much influence in our politics.”

Kathie Allen

Allen called on Curtis, and her other third-party and independent competitors, to reject donations from corporations leading up to the Nov. 7 general election. Standing in front of Chaffetz’s former state office Thursday, she extolled the campaign finance practices of Sen. Bernie Sanders, who criticized big money’s place in politics during his presidential bid.

Most of Allen’s money rolled in shortly after Chaffetz appeared on national television in March and remarked that “rather than get that new iPhone,” low-income Americans may have to prioritize spending on health care. Though he later sought to clarify the comment, angry people from across the country jumped on the fundraising site CrowdPac and flooded Allen’s page with contributions.

Roughly 60 percent of her donations come from people outside of Utah — which she credits to voters nationwide feeling Chaffetz, as chairman of the House Oversight Committee, was “not holding Trump accountable.” Meanwhile, Curtis boasts 89 percent of contributions from in-state.

The mayor has collected $8,600 from PACs, though the groups are mostly Utah-based (including Nu Skin Enterprises and Rocky Mountain Power). Curtis has raised more than $371,000 during his campaign.

Allen, a Cottonwood Heights resident and 63-year-old physician, didn’t disavow PAC funding altogether, just contributions tied to corporations.

“It is obvious to everyone,” she said, “that special interests and big money have far too much influence in our politics.”