Election reform has become a major topic of discussion this legislative session, and for the first time in recent memory, the trend appears to be moving towards more open and transparent elections.
Currently, if a Political Action Committee (PAC) or a Political Interest Committee (PIC) were to decide to participate in any particular election (be it for the election of a candidate or the passage or failure of an issue), those PICs and PACs must divulge not only where they spent money, but also who contributed to these organizations. Likewise, when individuals contribute to a campaign, the campaign must also divulge the names of contributors.
Under current state law, however, corporations do not need to divulge the names of those that contribute to their money pools that are specifically intended political campaigns. In general, these donations do go through PACs owned by the corporations – if the company is large enough to have taken the time to set one up. These corporations must still report the donation, but they have not been required to divulge donors.
Hughes is attempting to require companies to divulge the names of those who contribute to the company for the purpose of engaging in political activities, and it is a laudable goal. Objections have focused primarily on the undue burden that this may place on business and that individuals have the right to remain anonymous if they so choose. However, both of these arguments can be offset by the fact that, as we stated above, various other originations are already required to report for their political activity – companies should be no different. Likewise anonymity should be respected, but moderate to large donations have a far reaching effect on our political process.
Lawmakers have expressed a deep dislike of campaign finance limits, therefore, the only legitimate way to achieve some sort of reasonable election finance reform is disclosure. If an individual or corporation is spending tesn of thousands, hundreds of thousands, or even millions of dollars to influence an election – the public has a right to know who is paying for it. Hughes’ bill would provide a more level playing field and make the process more open.
To contact Rep. Hughes, Click Here or call 801-572-5305
Impact on Average Utahn:
High Impact 5 . 4 . 3 . 2 . 1 . 0 No Impact
Necessary 5 . 4 . 3 . 2 . 1 . 0 Unnecessary
Great Bill 5 . 4 . 3 . 2 . 1 . 0 . -1 . -2 . -3 . -4 . -5 Poor Bill