Our View: Unethical enablers

Tuesday , March 18, 2014 - 2:28 PM

Editorial Board

It didn’t take the Utah Supreme Court long to send a big smile to the face of Lt. Gov. Greg Bell, state Sen. Curt Bramble and other opponents of legitimate ethics reform in Utah politics.

The state’s high court dealt a blow to voters having the opportunity to enact ethics reform in Utah, deciding on Tuesday that more than 120,000 signatures gathered by ethics proponents did not meet requirements. In a single paragraph, thousands of volunteers, tens of thousands of volunteer hours, are now wasted.

The high courtmaintained Bell’s decision that electronic signatures to a petition lack legitimacy. This keeps Utah firmly in the 19th century of identification tabulations. It’s also ridiculous reasoning because so many important, confidential, aspects of our lives are handled through electronic identification.

The truth has always been that the dominant political force in our state does not want real ethics reform. They have crafted "baby-steps" ethics laws that allow them loopholes to freeload food and gifts and also retain their ability to gobble up all the campaign cash they can beg for and maintain elite relationships with lobbyists.

In fact, Sen. Bramble last year passed a bill that makes it even more difficult to put ethics reform on the ballot in the future. The new law maintains a ban on electronic signatures and increases the already ridiculous amount of signatures needed to get a citizens’ initiative to a vote, by basing a required number on a percentage of votes in a presidential election, which are always higher.

We agree with David Irvine, who represents Utahns for Ethical Government, the group behind the referendum, that this is a defeat for citizens and grassroots efforts. We urge the majority of Utah residents — who do support a cleaner government — to not give up trying to effect real ethics reform.

Voters, please remember when you go to the polls, which of your legislators support real ethics and which legislators are enablers of the current imperfect system.

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