Our View: Campaign spending caps now

Thursday , March 06, 2014 - 10:16 AM

Editorial Board

It will be interesting to see if the Utah Legislature will enact a law that puts caps on campaign spending. It will be up to the Republican Party leadership to see if it happens. They have the votes, as well as most of the campaign cash.

There is a better-than-usual chance that a campaign spending limit may make it to Gov. Gary Herbert’s desk. Rep. Kraig Powell, R-Heber City, has promised to introduce what he calls the Governing Under the Influence Act. The act, if passed and signed into law, would prohibit individuals from donating more than $9,999 to state office candidates during an election period.

It is a much-needed bill, and we commend Rep. Powell for his efforts.

There is another reason that campaign spending caps may make it through the Legislature this session. The stench of the scandal involving Utah Attorney General John Swallow is hard to ignore. Even if Swallow avoids legal problems after an investigation, the history of big-money donations to Utah pols and instant access due to the ready cash concerns many. The average voter now knows that it’s simply wrong to have no limits or controls on the campaign cash that fills pols’ coffers. There is an understanding that in our state, money talks, and an unethical businessperson has easier access to pols than an advocate for children’s health care, for instance.

Serious campaign finance reform in Utah that sets cash limits may change such dysfunctional priorities. The onus is on Utah Republicans to pass Powell’s bill.

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