Our View: Pols kill donation limits again

Thursday , March 13, 2014 - 2:22 PM

Editorial Board, Standard-Examiner

Even with the stench of the John Swallow scandal permeating in the Utah Capitol, the dominant political party in Utah stripped out legislation that would have set campaign donation limits for pols. These were generous limits: $10,000 for a two-year cycle to pols in state races and PACS; $40,000 for a political party; $5,000 for legislative pols and school board hopefuls.

It’s another in a series of missteps by Utah legislators in regards to ethics. They tiptoe forward when long, solid steps are needed. Both the Utah Senate and House majorities eagerly eliminated the above-mentioned donation limits.

Our state remains one of four states that does not have campaign cash donation limits. As a result, lawmakers will still have access to unlimited campaign cash. The result will be what has become the norm in our Legislature — the deepest pockets get the most access, and ultimately, a lot of success. It hardly bears mentioning that Utah’s poorest residents, many of whom will not have access to Medicaid, do not have deep pockets of cash to fill legislators’ pockets.

It is nauseating to hear these successful efforts to stop real campaign finance reform defined as a defense of freedom of speech. Memo to legislators: Freedom of speech is not adorned with dollar bills. It should never be defined as giving premium access to those interests with the most dollars.

So another Utah legislative session ends without reforming our current campaign cash dysfunctions. We promise to keep supporting campaign cash reform, and we urge those legislators who supported the donation limits to resume their reform efforts next session.

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